How to battle the cravings monster Debbie Bannigan

Today’s guest blogger is Debbie Bannigan, CEO of Swanswell, a national recovery charity that believes in a society free from problem alcohol and drug use. She talks about the inner Cravings Monster, and tips on how to beat it. 


Craving a drink

Have you ever had that feeling that you absolutely, totally, have to have a drink? A feeling that is so intense that you are driven to open a bottle or crack a can right away?

You are not alone.

Over the years, we’ve helped a lot of people at Swanswell to change their drinking behaviour. The biggest problem we see people struggle with is overcoming their cravings. Sound familiar?

So, to the point, what is a craving and how do you beat it? Well, the dictionary defines a craving as ‘an intense desire for something’. Like when you just have to have a drink, right here, right now. I call it the ‘Cravings Monster’.

What causes cravings

All sorts of things can cause your Cravings Monster to turn up but, when you think about it, he is fairly predictable. For example, if you have a drink when you feel stressed, then your Cravings Monster is most likely to turn up next time you feel stressed. It’s called ‘association’. It’s not your fault, it’s the way your brain and body work together, but you can change it.

The good news is that alcohol cravings come and go in a matter of minutes. Honestly. It might feel as though your Cravings Monster is a more permanent visitor but, believe me, he is just a fleeting guest.

How to beat cravings

There are lots of things you can do to send your Cravings Monster packing:

  • Distract your body: Do something else. Anything physical will do the trick – running, gardening, swimming, housework, knitting, tae-kwon-do – or some impressive combination of all of them.
  • Talk to someone: A problem shared is a problem halved. You’d be amazed how effective simply talking to someone can be as they can give you a different perspective. Or talk about something else – make that call to a friend that you’ve been trying to chat with for ages – at the very least they’ll help to distract you until your craving goes away.
  • Focus on what you want to achieve: Just think of the money you’ll save, how much healthier you’ll feel and how much more sleep you’ll get. If none of that works, think about how much it’ll mean to your family and loved ones if you’re able to make such a positive change.

These are just three of the tips we suggest in our eBook, ‘6 super easy top tips to battle your cravings and come out on top’. To get our three other tips, plus lots more information and a handy tool for keeping on top of your drinking, download the eBook here.

Cut down or give up drinking

Cravings can derail people trying to cut down or give up drinking but our Cravings Monsters get weaker, and turn up less often if we don’t allow ourselves to give in to them; so if you can distract yourself for those few minutes each time, you’ll find it much easier to achieve your goals.

If you do find yourself needing extra support and you’re not sure where to turn, we also have a team of dedicated workers who offer confidential support over the phone in one-hour appointments.

join.swanswell.org/cravings-help

Keep up the good work!


Debbie Bannigan is the CEO of Swanswell, a national recovery charity that believes in a society free from problem alcohol and drug use. Swanswell has been helping people to change and be happy since 1968.

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