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How to Control a Craving for Alcohol

Learn how to control a craving for alcohol in this Howcast video featuring addictions specialist Paul J. Rinaldi, Ph.D.


People who are struggling with alcohol use and trying to stop drinking, often experience cravings. People need to remember that just because you have a craving, that doesn't mean you're going to drink or have to drink. There's a couple of ways of trying to control cravings.

One way is through medication. We have a medication called Naltrexone, which is given to people specifically to target cravings. Naltrexone, for some people, works very, very well at controlling their cravings, and other people report that it doesn't help their cravings at all. But we often also help people get through their cravings.

There's a technique that's sometimes called urge surfing, where people have an urge to drink. And what we do is we help people visualize a wave. And what happens with waves? Waves build, they build up just like a craving. They build up and build up, and then they break, and they end, and they abate. Well that's what we help people see. That's what's going to happen with a craving. It's gonna build and build, but we help people have the confidence that that craving will stop. It'll feel bad, but it will ease off. So that's more of a cognitive and behavioral way of helping people get through cravings.

So again, one can try medication like Naltrexone to help control cravings, but the other way is to really learn some techniques to get through the craving. And for people to remember, most people will have cravings, and that's okay. You don't have to drink in response to a craving.

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