Researchers have proven in animal studies what we intuitively know to be true. People who are recovering from alcohol addiction may be tempted to drink again when in surroundings that they associate with pleasurable drinking experiences. Possible triggers can include sight, smell, sound, familiar surroundings or people. It seems logical to think that if a reformed drinker goes to a place where, in the past, they went just to drink, they are going to experience strong cravings.
Chaudhri and colleagues from Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center introduced rats to an environment with distinctive smells, sounds and visuals, then exposed them to a tone before pouring alcohol in their drinking dish. Rats became accustomed to the alcohol whenever they heard the tone. These same rats were then placed in a completely new environment where the tone was played. At first, they visited their drinking dish to look for the alcohol, but without the presence of the distinctive environment, they quickly learned not to expect alcohol after the tone was played. These same rats were then placed into the original distinctive environment and upon hearing the tone, immediately returned to their drinking dish in anticipation of alcohol. This affect can be reduced if the same cues are introduced a number of times under different circumstances presenting treatment centers with a possible cognitive behavioral model of treating alcoholism involving repeated mental exposures to environments that trigger drinking.
The upshot is that if you want to continue to socially attend spots where you previously drank alcohol, do different activities that don’t involve drinking. This could prove difficult in a bar!
See the full press release at Eureka Alert.