So, you quit drinking and crave sugar. How did that happen?
When a person decides to quit drinking, they look forward to ending the constant desire to drink. Often they begin to crave sugar and wonder why it feels like they have traded one obsession with another. It’s not just them; many people experience this phenomenon and there is an explanation for it.
Alcohol Can Raise and Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Drinking alcohol causes the brain to release dopamine, causing feelings of happiness and contentment. Eating sweet foods creates the same effect. The human body understands that in the absence of constant use of alcohol it has previously relied on, sugary foods can offer the same effect.
Alcohol often gets the blame for causing high blood sugar in a person, resulting in advice for diabetics and others to reduce or eliminate alcohol from their lives. On the flip side, alcohol can also lower a person’s blood sugar levels. The liver processes any alcohol a person consumes. The liver normally releases glycogen into the bloodstream, but drinking alcohol impedes this process. This can often cause blood sugar levels to drop.
When a person consumes a lot of alcohol, which is high in sugar, their blood sugar levels typically go up. The body then releases insulin to lower the sugar level, which prohibits the release of more sugar from the liver. After the alcohol has left the system, a person’s blood sugar level is often low. This causes them to crave sweet foods.
When a person enters treatment for alcohol addiction, they should ask for a medical evaluation to determine the status of their blood sugar levels. This is particularly important if the person is diabetic. Many programs offer nutritional counseling to help address blood sugar levels and create specific dietary plans for clients that help improve their overall health.
I Quit Drinking and Crave Sugar: Replacing One Addiction With Another?
Many times when a person has given up drugs or quit drinking, they find themselves tempted to replace that addiction with another one. This phenomenon is known as a transfer addiction. While transfer addictions often mean replacing alcohol with a drug or substituting one drug for another one, it can also happen in the form of eating.
When a person finds they crave sugar constantly, and they feel a payoff when they consume it, they may switch their addictive behaviors. While sugary foods do not provide the full-blown narcotic effect of a drug such as opioids or a large amount of alcohol, they still give a high of sorts. They offer a familiar source of a ritualistic high that many find difficult to give up during the early stages of recovery.
Part of the reason for the ease with which many switch addictions has to do with the fact that addiction has a behavioral aspect to it. While ultimately a person with a substance use disorder focuses on chasing the high that drugs and alcohol provide, they also come to find comfort and familiarity in the addictive behaviors.
A person may find that focusing on obtaining and eating sweet foods feels like an acceptable substitute for their previous addictive behaviors. They may even become obsessed with finding recipes and learning to bake or looking for multiple sources to purchase sweet foods from.
What Eating Disorders Have in Common With Alcoholism Recovery
A person who struggles with addiction to alcohol often comes to rely on every drinking session as a reward. When they’ve had a hard day, a problem at work, or a fight with a loved one, opening up a bottle can feel like the salve for what’s wrong.
People who experience eating disorders deal with this reality. Individuals who binge eat or compulsively overeat report feeling that the process of indulging in sweet foods feels like a consolation for the difficult parts of their lives. Engaging in the consumption of sugary foods can also offer what feels like a remedy for boredom.
Many people with eating disorders avoid social invitations and daily responsibilities in order to have time to engage in binge eating. For those in recovery from addiction to alcohol, this can become a problem, too. They feel like they quit drinking, and that in itself should come with a reward. When they simultaneously crave sugar, it can feel like the consumption of it provides the answer. Eating can also fill the time that was previously devoted to the process of drinking.
Sugar Cravings Are Temporary
Sugar cravings may be annoying and problematic when they first arise, but the good news is they are usually temporary. Even if a person gains a little weight due to this, that can be addressed in time. Keeping recovery as their main goal should be the priority.
Many people do not develop sugar cravings, but for those who do, taking action can help. They can talk to their doctor or schedule an appointment with a dietician or nutritionist. Often a person’s dietary intake becomes compromised while experiencing addiction, which means several changes in diet may be needed.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Palm Springs
If you have quit drinking and crave sugar, know that you are not the only one! Alcohol addiction is a difficult challenge for everyone, even after the drinking stops. California Behavioral Health can help you get on the road to recovery. We analyze your needs and prepare a plan designed for your situation and goals. We offer detox and residential treatment, with a focus on holistic approaches to help give you a well-rounded ability to achieve long-term recovery.
Contact California Behavioral Health today and let us show you how to put alcohol addiction in your past.