Recovery Why Are Sugar Cravings Common in Addiction Recovery?

If you’re healthy overall, you’ll reduce cravings because your body is working properly. One reason cravings happen is because of an imbalance in your body chemistry. Things like eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep can help you feel good all the time and without the highs and lows of alcohol abuse— and sugar. It is not uncommon for individuals who have a history of substance abuse to not take care of their physical health. Alcohol and drugs in and of itself can wreak havoc on internal organs.

  • While many of us understand the effect sugar has on our weight, its ability to affect hormones related to mood can compel some individuals to engage in addictive behavior.
  • A chocolate bar is far less harmful than returning to active addiction.
  • Giving in to sugar cravings during recovery from alcohol is commonplace.
  • Alcohol can have a ‘rollercoaster effect’ on glucose levels.
  • Over time, the brain loses its ability to produce its own dopamine and depends on substances to create it.

That’s more than twice the concentration of sugar in a typical soda, the researchers say. In these first few days, you may also be at risk for more adverse and serious side effects of alcohol withdrawal. This includes hallucinations, excessive sweating, confusion and agitation at a worrisome level, fevers, fast respirations, and at times passing out. Ria Health offers access to prescription anti-craving medications and regular coaching sessions to help you overcome the urge to drink alcohol. We support both abstinence and moderation, so you don’t need to quit all at once, or even completely.

Sugar in Alcohol

Longer term impacts of alcohol on blood sugar are related to the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for managing insulin in the body. When alcohol is metabolized, it creates toxic byproducts that damage cells in the pancreas. Alcohol can have a direct impact on blood glucose for the entire time it takes alcohol to leave your system, which is typically 12 hours after drinking. The length of time depends on how much alcohol is consumed, and how rapidly.

People with substance use disorders often experience intense sugar cravings. Even the original printing of The Big Book in Alcoholics Anonymous mentions a physician who encouraged newly sober alcoholics to keep chocolate or candy on hand to help manage alcohol cravings. Many of these tips are the same tips for a healthy lifestyle in general, but that makes sense.

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If someone consumes several sugary alcoholic drinks, it may override the factors above and actually increase blood sugar. Also, because alcohol is a toxin, it takes the body a long time to process it. While your kidneys are busy processing alcohol, they can’t perform their normal job of excreting excess sugar through urination, which can cause blood glucose to climb higher than usual.

Why are sugar cravings so common in people recovering from a substance use disorder? Even if you’re craving a food (or other substance) that isn’t doing your health any favors, in early sobriety your body is just trying to find its equilibrium. By making a few adjustments to your diet and lifestyle, you can help gently restore balance, which will take the focus off sugar. Alcohol can also cause your blood sugar levels to spike and drop. Additionally, alcohol increases insulin secretion and prevents the liver from releasing glucose, which makes heavy drinkers susceptible to hypoglycemia.

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This is called a transfer addiction when you replace one type of addiction with another. Alcohol’s effect is typically worse than that of sugar, though. Some heavy drinkers may also experience “cross-tolerance” between alcohol and sugar. Cross-tolerance means that someone who is dependent on one addictive substance may also have higher tolerance for another. This can make it easier to become dependent on that other substance—such as replacing alcohol with sugar. Consuming too much sugar on a daily basis can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, gut dysbiosis, skin problems, and type 2 diabetes.

When I got sober in December 2016, I realized I was consuming way more soda and sugary foods than I had before. Blatner suggests subbing more fruit, which is a natural source of sugar, into your diet. She recommends frozen bananas dipped in dark chocolate or “apple nachos” — sliced apple drizzled in nut butter and topped with unsweetened coconut and cocoa. Chrissy Teigen says do alcoholics crave sugar she’s become “insane” about all things sweet since she stopped drinking alcohol — and apparently, that’s a very common effect of going sober. Some research studies have found a link between people who have a sweet tooth and people at risk of excessive alcohol use. Apparently, there may be a genetic or familial connection between those two things (at least for certain people).

For additional tips, be sure to check out 9 Best Low Sugar Ice Creams, According to Dietitians. Research has found that lack of sleep contributes to sugar cravings along with dozens of other side effects. Getting a good night’s sleep is critical for almost every aspect of your life, and your recovery. I’ve spent the last six years researching and understanding alcoholism, addiction, and how people get sober.