Controlling Urges

Habits and urges go hand in hand.

Those who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, and other behaviors will have a strong urge to abuse again. Even when it becomes more than obvious that the particular behavior is affecting their life negatively, they still find it hard to to control urges. The addict is so enthralled with their drug  or behavior that they have little self-control over it. They may make promises to themselves or others to quit, but this compulsion is too intense and they end up breaking  promises. This is why it is necessary for addicts to learn skills for coping and controlling urges.

Not everyone who abuses alcohol or drugs will develop a strong urge to engage in this behavior. Some may have a short period of time where they might drink excessive or use recreational drugs. This does not necessarily mean that these people will have problems with urge control and become an addict of alcohol, drugs or other addictive behaviors. If they are educated about the dangers of continued abuse, they may be able to stop without having to overcome addiction.

Urges….. Do you know the few myths(irrational beliefs) about urges?  They are:

controlling urges

1. Urges are excruciating or unbearable. You can’t handle it.

2. They compel you to use. You have no choice.

3. They will not go away until you drink or use.  They haunt you.

4. They will drive you crazy. They will make you madd.

Actually,  most of the time, with training if you wait approximately 20 minutes, the urge will pass.  If you can find a way to distract yourself either by calling someone, go jogging, take a shower, etc… think positive and it will pass.  You may have to do this 20 times a day… eventually, it will lessen and it will become easier with time, practice and training.

There are many techniques that can work well for urge control. Individuals will usually find that certain tools will work better for them than others. The most common urge control techniques include:

  • Mindfulness meditation can work particularly well when dealing with urges. Mindfulness involves observing the internal and external world without getting caught up with it. So when the urge to use again arises, the person will just acknowledge this as just a mental event. It means that urges are viewed similar to passing clouds in the sky which will soon pass.
  • Support groups can be a great resource for people who are experiencing urges to relapse. Here they will be able to share their thoughts and feelings and get support. Sometimes just talking about how they feel will be enough to prevent a relapse. The most famous of these groups is AA.  Members will know all about these urges and should be able to offer useful advice about how to deal with them.
  • An AA sponsor can also be of great benefit when people are dealing with urges to return to substance abuse. This person is usually only a phone call away, and they can be depended on at any time of the day or night. A sponsor will be able to offer advice, but most important of all they will be able to listen. The worst thing that an individual fighting strong urges can do is not talk about it with somebody else.
  • Hobbies can act as a distraction when an urge to relapse arises. It can also remind the individual of the benefits of staying on the recovery path.
  • Exercise can help people deal with urges. Just a walk around the park can be enough to change the way people are feeling. Those who avoid physical activity in recovery are likely to not feel comfortable in sobriety and will therefore be more likely to relapse. Too much exercise is not the answer either as this can be a way to avoid life and responsibilities.

Habits and urges go hand in hand. In fact, people with an addictive behavior problem, whether it is overeating, drug use or alcohol abuse, claim that they derive no pleasure from their habit–that it is nothing but the relentless craving that fuels ongoing addictive behavior.  Basically maintaining the addiction just to feel normal or satisfy the intense urges and cravings. What is usually most difficult for people when changing a bad habit is coping with the sometimes relentless urges. The initial days of a habit kicking plan can be exhausting as urges dominate thinking and interfere with daily routine. Hi-jacking the brain and distracting it.Many people give up change efforts because they feel that there is no way they can function without their habit as the urges interfere too much with quality of life.

It is important to remember that urges, in and of themselves, are normal. We experience craving in varying degrees every day. And because your habit has been important to you for a long time, it may be unreasonable to expect urges to vanish completely. What is hoped is that you will come to experience urges with less frequency and that when they are experienced you will be able to react in a way that avoids relapse.

Again, it takes time, effort and patience.  Your addiction didn’t happen overnight. It takes practice and retraining of the brain to correct the behaviors that have been in place while addicted.  Don’t give up.  If you stumble…get back on track as quickly as possible and use your relapse as a stepping stone.  Learn from it and grow from it.  It’s all about growth and learning.  Your journey is all about experience and blossoming!

Posted in Addiction, Recovery, Rehabilitation, Self Help

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