When an individual eats sugar, the brain produces huge surges of dopamine. This is similar to the way the brain reacts to the ingestion of substances like heroin and cocaine. Researchers think that this might be because our bodies have adapted over time to seek out foods that are high in calories. For https://ecosoberhouse.com/ most of human history, it was important to eat a lot of calories in order to survive. With modern food technology and the widespread availability of high-calorie foods, at least in Western nations, this is no longer necessary for survival. Sugar’s siren call in early sobriety can be hard to resist.

do recovering alcoholics crave sugar

The neurobiological pathways of drug and “sugar addiction” involve similar neural receptors, neurotransmitters, and hedonic regions in the brain. Craving, tolerance, withdrawal and sensitization have been documented in both human and animal studies. In addition, there appears to be cross sensitization between sugar addiction and narcotic dependence in some individuals. In the last two decades research has noted that specific genes may underlie the sweet preference in alcohol- and drug-dependent individuals, as well as in biological children of paternal alcoholics. There also appears to be some common genetic markers between alcohol dependence, bulimia, and obesity, such as the A1 allele gene and the dopamine 2 receptor gene. However, there is a link between sugar and dopamine, the same chemical that releases in the body during illicit drug use.


Addicts get “high” however and many addicts abuse stimulant drugs. The buzz from sweets and caffeine helps them suppress their cravings as well. You’re not alone, it’s actually common for recovering alcoholics to crave sugar. Eating ice cream or a donut every once in a while is okay, but there may be cause for concern if you’re constantly snacking.

How do you lose weight after being an alcoholic?

  1. Eat healthy foods. Avoid refined carbs, trans fat, and empty calories.
  2. Drink plenty of water.
  3. Don't replace alcohol with indulgent, high-calorie foods.
  4. Get 7-8 hours of high-quality sleep.
  5. Exercise!

Sugar stimulates the release of dopamine, the feel good neurotransmitter in the brain. When we take in large amounts of sugar, the brain releases a bunch of dopamine and we feel really, really, really good. Physiologically speaking, when we consume alcohol, the body converts it to sugar. This leads to a subsequent spike in blood sugar levels, so when we engage in Dry January our blood sugar levels will drop. In order to deal with your cravings, you really need to understand some key concepts of the recovery process.

Trading Alcohol for Sugar

It’s not uncommon for individuals who once struggled with alcohol to turn to food in recovery, especially sugary foods. There are psychological and physiological reasons as to why this occurs. Since you are reading this, I will assume you have made the decision to do something about your addiction and that you are concerned about the increase in your cravings for sweets. You want to change and there is a tendency to what to change everything all at once. You see, the mind needs at least 30 days to experience a change, another 30 to practice it, and then another 30 to see the beginning effects of the change and realize the change is sustainable.

  • I apply this law of physics in my recovery in numerous ways, including combating sugar cravings.
  • Of course, when you’re sleeping better, feeling better, waking up clear-headed and full of energy, it becomes much easier to stick to fitness and exercise commitments.
  • When it comes down to maintaining a healthy sober lifestyle, people in early recovery should consider cutting back on sugar.
  • As Northeast Ohio’s premier provider of alcohol addiction treatment, you can safely and privately recover from alcohol addiction.
  • Reliance on sugar, in the beginning, is normal and acceptable.

Exercise will help with cravings and your mood, especially if you take it outside to get some sunshine. Being out in the sun boosts dopamine and vitamin D and just makes you feel pretty damn good. Of course, when you’re sleeping better, feeling better, waking up clear-headed and full of energy, it becomes much easier to stick to fitness and exercise commitments. do alcoholics crave sugar When I was drinking, hangovers often got in the way of my workouts. Being sober has given me the freedom to choose what I put my energy into and has given me the resilience and strength of mind to stick to my goals. Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience.

Do You Live In Food Dessert? Need A Sober Living Community That Offers Healthy Food?

A separate study done and presented at the 9th ISBRA Congress showed support for an association between sweets and a genetic predisposition for alcoholism and a family history. In the study 61 percent of individuals with a positive family history of alcoholism preferred sugar solutions. This is extremely high compared to the 19 percent of individuals who preferred sugar solutions and who reported no known negative family or genetic histories of alcoholism. If nothing else, we want to point out that a little holiday indulgence doesn’t mean you’re ruined for healthy eating or a little exercise.

  • It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.
  • Addicts who are used to another drug of choice, such as heroin, may miss the high dopamine levels produced by substances, especially in early recovery.
  • Seeing a loved one struggle with an addiction to alcohol is extremely challenging, emotional, and painful.
  • Even in recovery, you may still crave sugar often because hypoglycemia takes time to reverse.
  • When struggling with hypoglycemia, you’re left with symptoms like irritability, aggression, headaches, dizziness, confusion, lack of concentration and impulsive decision-making.
  • Furthermore, can even lead to withdrawal when we cut it out of our diets.

If you’re prone to addictive behaviors, then you may be more likely to turn to other alternatives, such as sugar, to stay sober. Long-term alcohol abuse inhibits the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. This is partially a result of alcohol’s effects on the pancreas, which is primarily responsible for blood sugar levels. Poor diet and malnutrition, two common traits among long-term addicts, can also affect blood sugar. Many heavy drinkers are hypoglycemic or have low blood sugar, which can cause sugar cravings.

Stay Hydrated

Addiction specialists and addiction treatment centers are placing more focus on the nutritional component of recovery. Many addiction professionals have developed a holistic treatment approach that focuses on mind-body connection, paying particular attention to food as part of the treatment process.

What does 3 weeks without alcohol do to your body?

Overall benefits of three weeks without alcohol

Clear skin. More energy. Improved gym performance. Reduced anxiety and improved mood.

Regular exercise and meditation practice will also increase dopamine levels in the brain, helping to manage stress as well. Plus, a good exercise routine helps battle the holiday bulge. Enhanced conditioned “liking” of novel visual cues paired with alcohol or non-alcohol beverage container images among individuals at higher risk for alcohol use disorder. Explore membership at Tempest— and get ready to live an alcohol-free life you love. If you’re getting less than eight hours of sleep per night, your body will try to compensate with a quick energy boost from added sugar.

The Transfer Addiction

What this means is that sugar and drug addiction are similar in a lot of surprising ways. And for newly sober addicts and alcoholics, the chemical process of addictive substance use in the brain can cause intense sugar cravings during early recovery.