Urge surfing is a technique that helps you manage cravings skillfully and effectively as a key part of successful relapse prevention.
Cravings are often the most intense and difficult part of addiction recovery. The desire to relapse can be at once both overwhelming and subtle, flooding with thoughts and urges that sap willpower. The difference between success and failure in recovery and can be a key part of relapse prevention.
Our intuitive reaction to fight urges, tends to feed cravings and increase chances of relapse. The mindful practice of urge surfing is a very powerful tool in facing cravings and learning to live with through the recovery journey. In embracing or observing cravings, urge surfing allows one to better understand and overcome these urges, with minimal discomfort.
Healing Emotional Trauma
Pioneered in the ‘80s by late psychologist Alan Marlatt, the urge surfing technique is now accepted as a very real and effective tool in relapse prevention. Its effectiveness has been backed up by a number of studies.
Most addictive behaviour is rooted in some type of emotional trauma, be it a loss in the death of a loved one, coming to terms with limitations set by chronic health problems, or the end of a relationship. People who have suffered a loss can numb their grief by turning to drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling, shopping, etc. In the process, healing is postponed and one can be driven further into addiction.
To assist in acknowledging the emotional trauma that triggered the addiction, and support in forming new habits consider AcuDetox treatment.
Knowing that an urge seldom lasts longer than half an hour, one can “ride out” the urges by becoming more aware of their transient nature. The trick is to not fight or suppress cravings. But instead to learn a technique to experience a craving fully, robbing the craving of its power over you.
Urge surfing is a relapse prevention technique based on the principles of mindful meditation. By paying mindful attention to what a craving actually feels like, through maintaining awareness of the craving on a moment to moment basis … avoiding passing value judgments about what you are experiencing (this is good, this is terrible, this will never end etc.) you learn to ride over waves of cravings eliminating the craving of much of their power.
Urge Surfing is practiced by:
- Begin by sitting comfortably and bring your attention to your breath…. It may help to close your eyes…
- You need to come to a place of observation and awareness. As you focus on your breath slowly become consciously aware of your urge. Be an observer, not a participant of the urge.
Allow the urge to increase in it’s strength naturally… Let it behave in it’s natural way… As your awareness catches this urge, it may help saying to yourself “my brain and body is sending me an urge, I do not have to react to it or fight it.”…
- Now scan your body taking note of what part of the body and in what way the urge is manifested….…. Starting from the souls of your feet to the top of your head to identify what parts of the body the urge impacts… It can be in several places or just one place… It could be in your hands, do they feel sweaty?…. Or it could be in your tongue… Is your mouth salivating?… Is your heart rate increased?…
- Do not judge the observations. Simply observe and note them. An urge never lasts forever – usually, no more than 20-30 minutes.
As you learn to experience your cravings in this mindful way, without judging and without giving in, you will find that in time the frequency and intensity with which you experience them will diminish. By learning the Urge Surfing way to experience cravings, you learn a valuable skill in overcoming them.