Getting sober is difficult, and maintaining sobriety has its own challenges. What happens when people who have stopped drinking alcohol find themselves struggling with strong sugar cravings? If you’re sober but addicted to sugar, know that you aren’t alone in dealing with this issue.
Is Sugar Addictive?
There’s no doubt that people can come to crave sugar and compulsively consume sugary food and beverages. Whether there’s such a thing as a full-blown addiction to sugar is unclear; some researchers support the idea, while others believe that the claim of addiction is too strong. Regardless, people can display signs of addiction involving sugar, including cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Although sugar consumption doesn’t generate the mental effects of alcohol or drug use, it can affect similar reward pathways in the brain. What happens when people eat or drink sugary products more frequently or in greater amounts?
Excessive sugar consumption is strongly associated with poor health outcomes, including an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems. If you’ve already struggled to improve your health by becoming sober, you don’t want to undermine your efforts by hurting your body in other ways.
Sugar Consumption During Sobriety
In a 2018 article from Business Insider, the author mentions going dry for the month of January and experiencing stronger cravings for sugary food. Even though the author doesn’t report having a prior addiction to alcohol, she describes how curtailing alcohol use still affected her life, including her need to eat sugary food. The article discusses some evidence from recent research on how people who are dependent on alcohol also tend to prefer food high in sugar; furthermore, alcohol cravings and sugar cravings appear to call on similar systems in the brain.
We don’t yet have a fully developed understanding of the relationship between different kinds of cravings or addictions. Even if you fight against one kind of compulsive or addictive behavior, your brain may remain vulnerable to other addictions. During sobriety, compulsive sugar use may begin to serve as a substitute for alcohol use. The sugar consumption may respond to certain physiological needs and give you some of the feelings and sensations that you formerly received from alcohol.
We should also consider the psychological issues that could potentially drive people towards greater sugar consumption. When maintaining sobriety, people may be struggling with stress and could turn to sugary foods for comfort and relief. Sugar consumption is also linked to anxiety and depression, mental health issues that are often comorbid with problematic drinking or alcohol use disorder. People with alcohol addiction may have also neglected their health, including their eating habits, while they were still drinking. If you’re sober but addicted to sugar, it’s important to evaluate your underlying psychological needs and your habits to determine how to curb excessive sugar consumption.
What Can You Do About Your Sugar Cravings?
If you’re eating sugary foods occasionally, you don’t necessarily have a problem. But if you feel that your sugar cravings are difficult to control and that you’re consuming too much sugar, it’s best to speak to compassionate professionals.
Whether you’re sober or still using alcohol, addictive sugar consumption can become a serious issue, hurting your health and possibly impeding your recovery from alcohol addiction. Reputable professionals who work in alcohol rehabilitation programs can help you figure out the right approach for dealing with addictions and cravings, including your intensified need for sugar. You may benefit from certain medical treatments, psychological counseling, and the creation of new strategies and habits for healthier living.
You’ll be treated as a complex individual with unique needs. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for dedicated, intelligent, and compassionate assistance.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATCI). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.