alcohol and obesity

Craving Alcohol: The Link Between Alcohol Use Disorder and Obesity

Alcohol use disorder and obesity can both be linked to cravings. Craving alcohol can lead to continuous drinking, and it can also lead to obesity in yourself or loved ones. Eating high-calorie foods and drinking are both linked to reward centers in your brain, and people like feeling good, so they’ll usually indulge these cravings. However, suffering from both alcohol use disorder and obesity can greatly harm your body and well being.

Alcohol use disorder and obesity are linked, and we’ll break the connections and how you can be free of both conditions at Sana Lake Recovery Center.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Alcohol use disorder occurs when you can no longer control your drinking and experience withdrawal symptoms when not drinking. About 15 million people in the U.S. have alcohol use disorder, and alcohol is one of the most misused substances out there. This is due to the fact that it’s cheap and widely available in bars, restaurants, and supermarkets.

Craving alcohol can lead to alcohol use disorder. Binge drinking often can also lead to this, and unfortunately, this practice is common in the U.S., especially among young people. Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in two hours.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

Signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder include:

  • Continuing to drink even though it impairs your relationships and interferes with work
  • Experiencing frequent memory loss or blackouts
  • Making excuses to drink to feel normal
  • Drinking alone
  • Isolating yourself from family and friends
  • Feeling irritable

Craving alcohol, while initially harmless, could also be a warning sign for alcohol use disorder. 

If alcoholics don’t have a drink for a few days, they go through withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms of alcohol use disorder include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Delirium tremens (DTs), which involves shaking, fever, hallucinations, and high blood pressure

Delirium tremens is rare, but it can happen in serious alcoholics.

Risk Factors for Alcohol Use Disorder

There are a few factors that may make you predisposed to developing alcoholism.

  • Family history of alcoholism
  • Having a mental disorder such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Experiencing peer pressure as a young adult

Why Do We Crave Alcohol?

We often crave alcohol when we are stressed and when we’re feeling strong emotions. Alcohol releases endorphins, which make us happy and give us feelings of pleasure. Low blood sugar can be another cause of alcohol cravings, and in other situations, alcohol cravings occur after not eating for a long time. On the whole, people mostly crave alcohol because it makes them feel good. 

The more alcohol you drink, the happier you feel. This leads you to feel intoxicated, and it also dulls your senses.

Alcohol is common and parties and weddings because they are times of celebration and joy. Drinking is also common after the death of a loved one or after a long week of hard work. Some people are able to drink in moderation even when craving alcohol, and some others who crave alcohol end up binge drinking. If you can seem to control your drinking after having one or two beverages, you may be dealing with a form of alcoholism.

How Craving Alcohol Can Lead to Alcoholism

It’s common to crave alcohol after a long, hard day at work or after a stressful day. Alcohol dulls our senses and releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness and satisfaction. However, these feelings are temporary, as alcohol is ultimately a depressant. The more you give in to alcohol cravings, the more toll they can have on your physical health.

Giving in to alcohol cravings can also lead to tolerance, which requires you to drink more and more to achieve the same feeling. Drinking more can then make you dependent on alcohol, leading you to develop alcohol use disorder.

How to Cope with Craving Alcohol

There are going to be times when you have a craving for alcohol. The good thing about cravings, though, is that they are temporary. If you learn how to ride these out, you can control them and keep on living a life of sobriety.

  • Recognize your triggers: There are two types of triggers: external and internal. External triggers are people, places, and things that may remind you of drinking, while internal triggers are emotions and thoughts that may set off alcohol cravings.
  • Avoid risky situations: Don’t keep alcohol in your house. This will keep you from drinking whenever you feel an urge to. You should steer clear of activities with friends that involve drinking. Once your cravings subside, you can begin to hang out with your friends again and suggest alternate party activities.
  • Deal with unavoidable triggers: There are some triggers that you have no control over. Here’s how you can cope with them:
    • Do a short-term activity. Call or text someone, listen to music, go to the gym, or meditate to clear your head.
    • Talk it out with someone you trust. Talk to your sponsor or a trusted friend who you can call on the phone.
    • Ride out the trigger. Accept the feeling you get from the trigger as normal and temporary instead of trying to fight it. The feeling will go away eventually.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is the state in which someone has so much body fat that their health is in danger. People who are obese have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. Being overweight is not the same as being obese. If you are overweight, you’ll usually have a BMI between 25 and 30.

With the rise of fast-food restaurants and processed foods, obesity has rapidly increased over the years. From 2011 to 2014, more than one-third of adults aged 20 and older were obese. 

Dangers of Obesity

Obesity can cause you to develop many harmful health conditions.

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Certain cancers, including liver, kidney, and esophageal

Causes of Obesity

A major cause of obesity is consuming more calories than you burn through exercise and regular physical activity. Other common causes include: 

  • Eating high-calorie foods often
  • Not exercising
  • Having certain medical conditions like hypothyroidism and polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Eating when you’re sad or depressed
  • Slow metabolism
  • Excessive drinking
  • Family history of obesity

Women who have gained weight during pregnancy may also be more susceptible to obesity. This weight can be difficult to lose after you’ve had the baby.

The Connections Between Alcohol Use Disorder and Obesity

We already know that having a family history of alcoholism can make you more likely to develop the same disease. Obesity rates are now higher than ever, and this has also been shown to be linked to alcoholism. If you abuse alcohol, you could cause a loved one to become obese without meaning to do so.

If someone sees a family member misusing alcohol, they may avoid drinking. However, rather than craving alcohol, they may turn to other substances to make them happy. In many cases, these are high-calorie foods, which taste good and are a cheaper, more accessible option for dealing with their problems. 

In some cases, alcoholics are almost malnourished since they depend more on drinking than eating. Alcoholic drinks, especially mixed ones with juices, usually have a lot of calories. For example, a pina colada packs about 650 calories, and a gin and tonic has up to 300 calories. Since alcoholic drinks don’t satisfy hunger, people will end up eating more on top of the drinks to feel full. As a result, they’re probably consuming much more calories than they should.

Finding Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Sadly, less than 10 percent of people with alcohol use disorder get treatment for it. Before finding treatment for alcoholism, you need to realize that you have a drinking problem. This may come after an intervention or a bad experience that you had with alcohol. Once you find the right treatment program, you can begin your journey to sobriety. 

Medical detox will be the first step for your alcohol use disorder treatment. Detox is crucial because it rids your body of alcohol and helps lessen your withdrawal symptoms. Licensed clinicians at Sana Lake Recovery Center monitor these symptoms and keep close watch over you as you recover. Once detox is complete after 30 days, you will begin the process of rebuilding your life without alcohol dependence. Although you may still be craving alcohol at this point, these cravings will be managed under our care.

Holistic treatment is effective in treating both alcohol use disorder and obesity. With holistic treatment, you can not only overcome substance use disorder, but you can also exercise, practice mindfulness and conquer your food cravings. Individual and group therapy can also help change the way you think about craving alcohol. 

Below are some examples of holistic treatment that we offer at Sana Lake.

  • Yoga: Yoga enhances your fitness and mental well being. This ancient Indian practice provides a well-rounded mix of breathing techniques, poses, and meditation. 
  • Guided meditation/mindfulness: Meditation is known to calm the mind and “rewire” the brain. It can relieve anxiety and put difficult emotions at ease.
  • Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be therapeutic for people suffering from alcohol use disorder and obesity.

Besides practicing mindfulness, the best way to fight obesity is to eat right and exercise. 

Cure Your Alcohol Use Disorder at Sana Lake Recovery Center

Why wait to change your life for the better? Let the licensed medical staff at Sana Lake Recovery Center treat your alcohol cravings and get you back to your old self. We know how hard it is to take that first step, but once you do, you’ll know you made the right choice. Contact us today to learn more about our programs.

References:

https://www.livescience.com/10371-craving-alcohol-linked-obesity.html

https://www.healthline.com/health/alcoholism/basics#risk-factors

https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/tools/Interactive-worksheets-and-more/Stay-in-control/Coping-With-Urges-To-drink.aspx