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Can the Smell of Alcohol Affect Behavior?

man smelling alcohol and getting triggered

Have you ever noticed how strongly your mind reacts when you smell certain things? Maybe your mind instantly triggers positivity when you smell a perfume your mother used to wear. Negative feelings might arise when you smell cut grass because it reminds you of being pushed in the grass by a bully when you were young. Memory through scent is a natural phenomenon that we all experience. You may wonder if the smell of alcohol can be a trigger for people with alcohol use disorder.

If you or a loved one suffer from alcohol use disorder, the alcohol addiction treatment at Vertava Health can help. Our alcohol detox and rehab programs are customized based on each patient’s unique situation. Call us today at 844.470.0410 to learn more about how we can help you.

Can the Smell of Alcohol be a Trigger?

For people in recovery, the smell of alcohol can be a trigger. Triggers are anything from an object, place, person, or smell that can cause a person to crave alcohol or to relapse. When trying to stay sober, it’s important to be aware.

The smell of alcohol triggers the mind because:

  • The brain associates the smell of alcohol with drinking.
  • When we drink, we get a surge of dopamine.
  • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.

The Dangers of Alcohol Nostalgia

Many of you may be thinking that the connection between smell and the urge to drink has little importance in your life or recovery. Understanding how scent affects your behavior is crucial to beating your addiction. Just think of the last time you sat down with a drink and remembered the way the smell of it affected your body.

Did you suddenly flashback to a fun party where you last had this drink? Or did you remember drinking at your wedding after dancing with your wife? These triggered memories are considered nostalgia, which is a positive remembrance of the past, even if the event itself was not positive.

So you might not remember the fistfight that occurred at that wild party or how angry your wife was at you after your reception. Instead, you remember just the positive aspects of drinking; and didn’t you have so much fun the last time you got drunk? Why not do it again by chugging the drink in front of you and drinking more? This unfortunate reaction is possible, even if you smell somebody else’s drink.

Smelling a beer and getting nostalgic about it may trigger a relapse that could lead to hospitalization after a bender or even death if the drinking is severe enough.

How to Avoid This Trigger

Avoid the scent of alcohol as much as possible. This may be a trickier problem than you realize, as there are people around you who will be drinking alcohol regularly. Beyond avoiding businesses that serve liquor and alcoholic parties, there are a variety of things you can do to prevent smelling alcohol:

  • Opening windows during parties to keep the room well-ventilated
  • Masking the scent of alcohol with deodorizers
  • Never using rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizers
  • Asking friends and family to drink alcohol away from you
  • Cleaning the empty liquor bottles of friends and family after use
  • Storing those empties outside of the house

Getting Help at Vertava Help

If you are struggling with the smell of alcohol and other triggers, Vertava Health’s alcohol addiction treatment can help. Our programs are designed to help you overcome your addiction and get on the path to recovery. Contact us today at 844.470.0410 for more information about our services. You do not have to do this alone.