Sugar Addiction and the Relation to Alcoholism

Post Date : May 4, 2021

Mixed drinks often contain large amounts of additional sugar, but the alcohol itself does not contribute to your sugar intake. However, all alcoholic beverages contain a significant number of calories and have little to no nutritional value. But if you’ve quit and are on the road to recovery, it’s important to be aware of the addiction shift from alcohol to sugar. So does sugar help with alcohol withdrawal, making it easier to get through this process a bad thing? This is called a transfer addiction when you replace one type of addiction with another.

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. Did you know that it’s common for people who have struggled with alcohol addiction to have low blood sugar? The liver, the organ that processes any alcohol you drink, is in charge of releasing glycogen into your blood.

Grief and Alcohol: How To Cope With Loss Without Drinking

I feel gratitude for the chance to improve my health, as opposed to a sense of denial. Mitzi Dulan, the owner of SimplyFUEL, echoed Moskovitz and says that it is “very common” for a sugar craving to emerge when you’re not drinking any alcohol. “Any time people change a behavior, our natural gut reaction — literally — is to experience more hunger,” she said.

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.

Why Are Sugar Cravings Common in Addiction Recovery?

We encourage clients at our South Carolina residential treatment center to make good nutrition a foundation of their recovery plan, and we provide a full continuum of care that helps ease the transition back to independent living. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs and how we can help you take the first steps towards a brighter future. Many heavy drinkers are hypoglycemic, or have low blood sugar, which can cause them to crave sweets.

  • Cravings occur because your body is still adjusting to sobriety and may be sending you mixed signals.
  • Have you ever eaten a meal that was just OK… then went straight to dessert in order to feel satisfied?
  • Glycogen is a type of sugar that is stored in the liver and muscles.
  • 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.
  • This is especially true if you are struggling with sugar cravings.

First, alcohol has a high content of sugar in it, which is why your brain makes the assumption that any sugar product could create the same type of euphoric feeling that alcohol did. Many alcoholic beverages have excessive amounts of sugar, especially when consuming mixed alcoholic drinks with various sodas, juices, liqueurs or other mixers that are loaded with sugar. While it is a myth that alcohol metabolizes into sugar, alcohol does significantly affect blood sugar levels, causing a yo-yo effect. Initially alcohol raises blood sugar levels, but after the body processes the alcohol blood sugar levels drop dramatically.

Experiencing Sugar Cravings After Quitting Alcohol

Eating a whole foods plant based diet can help stabilize blood sugar levels, resulting in a reduction of sugar cravings as well as alcohol cravings. Maintaining a healthy nutritional lifestyle is a form of self-care and is indicative of caring about your wellbeing, in which case you will be more inclined to care about your sobriety. Our second hypothesis was partially supported; use of sweets to cope predicted change in sweet craving at T2, but not sugar consumption or alcohol craving. As a result of regular alcohol drinkers becoming tolerant to sugar from their alcohol intake,  it is not uncommon for individuals in recovery from alcohol abuse to experience cravings for sugar.

  • There are several reasons people in addiction recovery may develop a preference for sweet foods.
  • You’re less likely to crave unhealthy foods and you’re more likely to get quality sleep, both of which will improve your overall energy level and mindset.
  • The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.
  • If you drank a glass of wine at exactly 5pm every night, prepare to have something delicious and hydrating at that time.
  • Poor nutrition in recovery can serve to exacerbate pre-existing health concerns.
  • Please post only when sober; you’re welcome to read in the meanwhile.

This type of craving is new, and you can’t get it out of your head. Almost like a shadow, it seems to follow you throughout your day. It would be easy to give in, but you’ve seen all the recent news about the negative effects it can have. In recovery, it is not uncommon for people to experience cravings for sugar.


“Sweet preference, sugar addiction and th[…]l pathways and genes.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, June 2010. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of Sober Recovery’s “Terms of Use”,
“Privacy Policy”,
“Cookie Policy”, and
“Health Disclaimer”. The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider. 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.

Importantly, both consuming sweets to cope and impaired control over eating sweets are, if found to be a risk in early recovery, potentially modifiable with targeted interventions. To test Hypothesis 1, whether increases in sweet craving, sugar consumption, and alcohol craving were observed from pre-treatment (T1) to one month later (T2), we conducted paired-samples t-tests. To test Hypothesis 2, whether sweet-cope or sweet-control predicted changes in sugar consumption, sweet craving, and alcohol craving over time, we conducted a series of multiple regression analyses. In two sets of models, sweet-cope and sweet-control were examined as predictors of T2 sweet craving, sugar consumption, and alcohol craving, controlling for T1 levels of the dependent variable. Each model was conducted separately because the use of sweets to cope with negative affect and impaired control over eating sweets reflect distinct correlates of sweet liking (Kampov-Polevoy et al., 2006).

This pattern of results suggests that sweet-cope may better be conceptualized as a distal predictor, moderator, or other mechanism of the tested relationships in future research. One hypothesis is that the connection between sweet-cope and alcohol craving or relapse could be mediated or moderated by sugar consumption and/or sweets craving, a research inquiry well-suited to assessment using ambulatory and EMA methods. Additionally, sweet-cope may moderate the relationships why do alcoholics crave sugar between sugar consumption, sweet craving, and/or alcohol craving or relapse. But my appreciation of things that taste good and are probably quite bad for me is balanced with a healthy lifestyle and plenty of physical activity. The way it works for me is that I put energy into fueling and exercising my body in a healthy way during the week and allow myself a bit of freedom at weekends. I don’t restrict myself if I’m eating out, on holiday or meeting up with other people.

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