Alcoholic addict. Man near the table with alcohol and a glass. Dangerous habit. Unhealthy life concept. Social problem.

Almost everyone has had a tough day and thought to themselves, “I could really use a drink right now.” The question is – when is this a normal thought, and when is it a potential sign of an alcohol use disorder? Many people may wonder, “Is it normal to crave alcohol?” Keep reading to find out the answer.

Strong Cravings Could be a Warning Sign

Having an occasional craving for a drink is perfectly normal. However, when that occasional craving turns into a constant or everyday craving, it becomes a problem. Additionally, it’s a problem if the craving is ever so intense that you can’t ignore it.

Understanding Withdrawal Symptoms

It’s also important not to confuse a craving with a withdrawal symptom. Individuals with alcohol use disorder often experience withdrawal symptoms if they go a while without drinking – or even reduce their usual drinking quantities. A craving and a withdrawal symptom are not the same things. When a person’s body becomes physically and mentally dependent on alcohol, withdrawal symptoms occur. These symptoms can be:

  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Headache
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares

Severe withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening and include seizures, hallucinations, fever, and more. It’s estimated that 5% of people who experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms have a seizure at some point.

Cravings vs. Withdrawal Symptoms: How Can I Tell the Difference

To understand if you’re having an alcohol craving versus a withdrawal symptom, ask yourself these questions:

  • Craving: Can you tell yourself you won’t be drinking and have your thoughts move on?
  • Withdrawal Symptom: Are the thoughts constant, even occurring at inappropriate times (the morning) or without a trigger?
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Do you have a physical reaction to not drinking (irritation, shaking, insomnia)?

Keep an Eye on Cravings

Cravings can be okay, but you should watch out for them. It can be a slippery slope to go from craving a drink after a hard day to needing a drink every day. If you find yourself craving alcohol often, try to take a break from drinking for a while. Alcohol shouldn’t be a crutch or a solution to your problems. Find healthy ways to cope with demanding days, such as engaging in a hobby, working out, or spending time with loved ones.

Cravings are Normal for Those Recovering From Addiction

It should be noted that cravings are perfectly normal for those recovering from alcohol addiction. Cravings will be most prevalent at the beginning of the person’s sobriety and should become less common as time goes on. Something as simple as getting a scent of liquor or seeing someone drink your previously favorite cocktail can spur a craving. Most people who have been sober for a while report that one day their cravings simply went away.

If You’re Concerned, Seek Professional Help

It’s essential to trust your intuition. If you’re concerned about how much or how frequently you’re craving alcohol, seek professional help. The experts at America’s Rehab Campuses can help you identify if you have an alcohol use disorder and get ahead of it. Alcohol addiction can be life-changing and have drastic consequences if left unaddressed. Get ahead of it and contact us today.