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How Prayer Can Reduce Cravings for Alcohol
Cravings for drugs and alcohol are one of the hardest situations most addicts face in recovery. The cravings are the most intense in the early days of recovery, but alcoholics and addicts can still experience cravings at unexpected, random times years later.
A recent study looked at the effects of prayer on managing cravings and found that this can be a useful tool to keep in your sobriety tool kit. If you’re having trouble managing your cravings for alcohol, talk to someone at our helpline by calling 800-721-8114.
How Prayer Helps Cravings
Researchers at New York University discovered that prayer reduces cravings for alcohol by stimulating the specific parts of the brain linked to emotions and attention. The study specifically showed participants a series of images that were intended to induce cravings for alcohol.
Then the participants recited a prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous. Participants reported that their cravings decreased after saying the prayer. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans showed an increase in the areas of the brain that control attention and emotion.
The Biological Basis of Cravings
Cravings for alcohol are one of the most challenging aspects of sobriety. Years of heavy alcohol use change the biological makeup of the brain, reducing levels of the feel-good chemical dopamine. Lower dopamine levels prompt alcoholics to seek more alcohol. Although giving into these cravings offers temporary relief, it actually perpetuates the cycle and makes it harder to stay sober.
The Role of Specifically Christian-Based Rehab
Choosing the right rehab program can make a big difference in your odds of successful recovery. If you already had a history of faith before going to treatment, Christian drug rehab centers could be very helpful for you. Most centers are willing to incorporate some element of spirituality in recovery, but may be vague about their spiritual focus in an attempt to appeal to more people. Christian drug rehab centers are more likely to incorporate prayer and spiritual reading as part of your recovery process.
Prayer and Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs have long believed in the power of prayer to help fight addiction. Nearly all 12-step programs promote a dependence on a Higher Power, which many participants call God. Programs that are expressly Christian, such as Celebrate Recovery, rely specifically on having a relationship with Jesus Christ. AA believes that regardless of how you define your Higher Power, you’ll find it easier to stay sober when you include prayer as one of your coping strategies.
Other Strategies to Fight Cravings for Alcohol
Christian drug rehab centers may use prayer as one of their potential treatment methods. But even if prayer is an effective way to deal with cravings, it isn’t the only way. Nutritional support can also help to fight cravings for alcohol. Many people who have been heavy drinkers for years are extremely deficient in many nutrients, especially B vitamins.
Replacing these B vitamins with nutritional sources can not only help with cravings but can also help you to feel healthier. Recommended foods that are good sources of B vitamins include the following:
- Whole-grain bread
- Peanut butter
These foods are good sources of other nutrients as well, such as vitamin D in salmon and yogurt, omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and walnuts and L-glutamine in spinach. These nutrients can help you to feel mentally and physically healthy.
In addition to improving your nutrition, many other methods can help you to fight off cravings for alcohol. Recognizing your triggers can help you to avoid them. Calling your sponsor or accountability partners can also help in the moment when a sudden craving strikes.
Alcoholics in recovery may deal with occasional cravings off and on for many years. But with time, these cravings will become fewer and easier to manage. When you’re ready to start your sobriety journey, call us today at 800-721-8114.