Two people discussing the link between sugar and alcoholism

What Is the Link Between Sugar and Alcoholism?

You are probably already familiar with sugar’s effects on your health. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that sugar can also be addictive, like alcohol. And what is worse is that sugar and alcohol addiction can play off one another. So, why do alcoholics crave sugar, and what can you do to prevent sugar cravings from interfering with your recovery? Learn how to get sugar and alcohol cravings under control and what to do if you need additional support for addiction. 

Promises Brazos Valley’s alcohol detox can help you overcome the challenges of alcohol use disorder. Once you complete detox at our facility, we will help you determine which treatment programs will best support your long-term sobriety. Contact us at 979.426.0086 or fill out our online form to learn more about our treatment options for alcohol addiction.

Is There a Connection Between Sugar and Alcoholism?

Sugar and alcoholism often go hand in hand, although most people do not recognize the connection between alcohol and sugar cravings. When compared side by side, sugar and alcohol are quite similar. Both of these substances:

  • Elevate dopamine levels to increase pleasurable feelings
  • Can lead to a tolerance that requires more of the substance to achieve the same emotional boost
  • Are highly addictive
  • Can lead to physical and psychological health issues
  • Can cause withdrawal symptoms when the substance is not consumed

Because they affect the body similarly, many people recovering from alcohol addiction use sugar as a replacement for alcohol. It takes time for the body to produce healthy dopamine levels once again after you stop drinking alcohol. It can be tempting to turn to sweets to raise dopamine levels to feel happier and more fulfilled. But swapping one addiction for another only perpetuates the cycle of addiction and can increase the risk of relapsing. 

Why Do Alcoholics Crave Sugar?

Sugar and alcohol are both highly addictive substances. And they both affect your brain’s reward system by releasing dopamine, which helps regulate movement, emotion, and motivation. Eating sugar or drinking alcohol makes you feel good at the moment, which makes you want to consume more to prolong the positive feelings.

People with alcohol use disorder tend to crave sugar because alcohol interferes with their body’s ability to produce dopamine independently. If they are not drinking, their dopamine levels will drop, as will their mood. This leads to a craving for something else that spikes dopamine, such as sugar.

How to Manage Sugar Cravings When You Quit Drinking

There are a few things you can do to keep sugar cravings under control while maintaining your abstinence from alcohol:

  • Maintain a regular meal schedule – Skipping meals or waiting too long between eating can allow your blood sugar to drop. This makes it more likely that you will reach for sugary foods.
  • Check food labels – Sugar is hidden in many common foods like ketchup. Check your food labels so you do not unknowingly consume large amounts of sugar.
  • Get plenty of sleep – You are more likely to crave sugar for energy when you are tired.
  • Learn how to manage stress – Stress increases cortisol levels, which can trigger sugar cravings. Find ways to reduce stress as much as possible.

Some treatment centers offer nutrition counseling to help people overcoming addiction choose foods and beverages most beneficial for recovery. Ask your facility if they provide nutrition therapy, or determine if your health insurance covers sessions with a nutritionist or dietitian.

Address Alcohol and Sugar Cravings at Promises Brazos Valley

Sugar and alcohol addiction can both be detrimental to your health. If you quit drinking and sugar cravings start to take over, you can find yourself dealing with weight gain, diabetes, and other problems. Promises Brazos Valley can help you adopt a healthy, sober lifestyle without falling victim to a rabid sweet tooth. Contact Promises Brazos Valley today at 979.426.0086 to find out how we can help.

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