A craving is a reaction to an event or emotion. It is a way that the brain tells a person that behavior feels good. For example, an individual may crave a relaxing bath after a bad day at work or may crave an indulgent hot fudge sundae after walking past an ice cream shop. From time to time, a person may crave a drink. Unfortunately, there are times when cravings are uncontrollable and lead to problems. Intense and constant alcohol cravings may signal addiction. It is essential to distinguish between the two situations. If a problem does exist, there are places like Desert Cove Recovery that offer help.
Reasons a Person Has Alcohol Cravings
It is common for alcohol cravings to occur after stressful situations. Alcohol releases endorphins, which are hormones that make a person feel happy. Low blood sugar can also cause these kinds of cravings. In the end, most people crave alcohol because they think it will help them feel better. Unfortunately, drinking large amounts of alcohol leads to intoxication.
Many people associate joy with alcohol. Parties and weddings are usually filled with alcohol. Therefore, the brain associates these happy emotions with drinking. Certain people can manage cravings by drinking in moderation. However, others end up binging.
What are Alcohol Cravings?
When people crave alcohol, they anticipate “feel good” effects from the drink. It often results from being around people who drink or from remembering good times when alcohol was involved.
During a craving, the body may experience arousal. Also, the body can experience a depressed heart rate. No matter, scientists uncovered that the brain causes cravings. As the body withdraws from alcohol, certain neurotransmitters are suppressed, making the brain demand alcohol to maintain its normal state. During a “cue-induced” craving, a person’s brain associates alcohol with a reward.1 Memories of drinking trigger these cravings.
How Cravings May Be a Sign that a Person is Addicted to Alcohol
Many individuals drink responsibly. It is common for many people to consume a beer with friends while watching a football game or to have a glass of wine at a fancy restaurant. However, these people can also easily deal without alcohol. When people actively seek out alcohol, this may be a sign of a problem. When cravings become regular and appear simultaneously each day, it may be a sign that addiction is starting. In other cases, a person may notice irritability or mood swings when alcohol is unavailable.
Unfortunately, giving into alcohol cravings often leads to tolerance. This means that an individual must drink more to achieve the same effects. The cycle creates alcohol dependency, which leads to a misuse disorder.
Side Effects of Craving Alcohol and Addiction
There are certain signs that alcohol has led to a misuse disorder, such as:
- Agitation. As cravings build, a person becomes fidgety and is easily agitated. When a craving becomes this bad, it is a sign that alcohol dependency has started.
- Drinking to Feel Better. A craving is a simple want for something. However, a misuse disorder may have taken hold when an individual continually reaches for a drink to feel better. At this point, a person may feel numb without alcohol.
- Memory Loss. Drinking responsibly means keeping control. During an episode of binge drinking, a person loses this control. They may experience blackouts or memory loss.
Why Alcoholism is Harmful
Alcohol addiction negatively affects many aspects of a person’s life, including:
- Physical Health. Alcohol misuse can cause cognitive impairment, heart problems, liver damage, and compromised immunity.
- Financial Help. Drinking is an expensive habit. When cravings occur, it becomes difficult not to reach for glass. As previously mentioned, building tolerance makes a person need more to get the same effects. This can hamper a person’s bank account.
- Family Life. Alcohol addiction can change a person’s mood for the worst. This can take a toll on friendships and family relationships. Besides divorce, it may harm the children involved as well.
- Work-Life. Alcohol problems make it difficult to concentrate at work or to get along with co-workers. Also, this impairment may lead to on-the-job injuries.
- Mental Health. Approximately 17 percent of individuals with a substance misuse disorder suffer from anxiety.2 Also, struggling with alcoholism raises the chances of experiencing a mental health disorder.
Reasons to Seek Help from a Trusted Alcohol Rehab
If a person finds that their alcohol cravings are powerful, it is essential to seek professional guidance. Attending outpatient treatment at a facility like Desert Cove Recovery can provide ways to avoid these cravings and to remain sober. A therapist can help get to the root of the drinking problem to avoid a negative trigger response. For more information, contact us today.