As someone living with addiction, you understand first-hand the difficulty in resisting urges to use substances. Even with our best efforts at managing cravings, powerful urges may still seem irresistibly strong at times. But here is good news: an effective technique called urge surfing can help you get through cravings without relapse.
What Is Urge Surfing?
Urge surfing is a mindfulness-based approach to addiction recovery. It emphasizes accepting the natural ebb and flow of cravings like waves crashing over you instead of fighting against them. Through this technique, you can learn to ride out your cravings without succumbing to the temptations of substance misuse.
Dream Recovery staff are specially trained in urge surfing techniques to assist clients in managing triggers and maintaining sobriety. Our staff can equip you with the skills to avoid relapse even when cravings are at their worst.
What Are Cravings?
To fully appreciate the power of urge surfing, it is crucial to first understand how cravings work in addiction.
When people decide to get sober, they stop using their drug of choice. However, their bodies are still dependent on that substance to feel normal. Over time, the body can heal and regain a sense of normalcy without substances. However, powerful cravings may tempt people to relapse so that they can feel better faster.
Can People Prevent Cravings?
Times of stress, anxiety, or boredom may lead to increased cravings. This is why staying busy and distracted can be helpful.
However, no amount of engagement in life can fully prevent cravings from happening. When cravings are activated, it can be difficult to resist using substances, despite your commitment to recovery.
Understanding the Cycle of Cravings
Fortunately, cravings typically follow a consistent cycle. Understanding this cycle can help people understand what is happening in their bodies and minds. This knowledge can empower them to get through their cravings without relapse.
First comes the trigger that sets off cravings. Next is an urge such as the intense desire for substances. After the urge, one of two things can happen.
One outcome is that people relapse by using substances again. This immediately stops the cravings, but it compromises people’s sobriety.
The better outcome is that people wait long enough for their cravings to dissipate naturally. When you are at the crest of the cravings wave, it can feel like they will never go away unless you use again. However, this simply isn’t true. If you can wait long enough, your cravings will weaken to the point where you will no longer be tempted to relapse.
How Does Urge Surfing Work?
By becoming aware of the cravings cycle, you can understand what you are experiencing and have more control. The practice of urge surfing can help.
Urge surfing is a mindfulness-based technique. It is designed to help you recognize cravings without giving in to them. The goal of urge surfing is to help you simply ride out your urges as they arise, just as a surfer would ride a wave. Engaging in this meditative practice can help you stay grounded until the height of the craving has passed.
Urge Surfing Meditation
Begin urge surfing by finding a peaceful space, ideally without interruptions. Close your eyes. Take deep breaths. Notice how air moves into and out of your body.
Focus your awareness on the present moment. Become mindful of any physical sensations you are feeling now. For example, notice tightness in the chest or tension in your muscles. Allow yourself to acknowledge what you sense without judgment or resistance.
Pay careful attention to how your breath rises and falls with each inhale and exhale. As you do this, you may experience increased urges toward substance use. This is normal and will dissipate with time, just like any wave.
As you ride the waves of craving, focus on your breathing and other physical sensations within your body. Notice as the intensity of the urge rises and falls with each passing moment. In time, this wave of cravings will recede. Just like tide levels change, so too do your urges.
Eventually, you should feel a sense of relief or pride for successfully riding out the initial waves of cravings without relapsing. You might not be through all of the cravings yet, but you are proving your ability to get through them. Take a few more deep breaths before slowly opening your eyes to complete the meditation.
Tips for Success with Urge Surfing
The longer you have been sober, the more likely your urges will not be as intense. When you have resisted cravings in the past, use that to remind yourself that it gets better and you can be strong in the meantime.
Urge surfing becomes more effective with practice and determination. Use these tips to maximize the benefits of urge surfing practices and break free of addiction altogether.
- Be present
Urge surfing requires you to utilize mindfulness and stay in the present moment by focusing on breathing and physical sensations. If your thoughts begin to wander, gently redirect them back to the present.
Make time each day to practice meditating even when no specific urge arises. This will make your practice simpler when needed.
- Remember that patience is key
Urge surfing may take time before you show significant improvements in managing cravings. Allow yourself to stick with the process and see the benefits of urge surfing over time.
- Keep an open mind
Urge surfing may take some acceptance and openness to find the benefits. Choose to keep an open mind about the process of urge surfing. In the meantime, don’t be judgmental of your thoughts that arise.
Growing in Recovery
Urges to use substances are often experienced through recovery, but they don’t need to impede your efforts at Dream Recovery. By practicing urge surfing techniques, you can more effectively cope with cravings. This can help you avoid relapsing and protect your sobriety.
If you are struggling to stay sober without relapsing, urge surfing can be a powerful tool to help you manage triggers and cravings and stay on the path to long-term recovery. Urge surfing uses the image of surfing over a wave when you encounter triggers or urges to use substances. This mindset can help you to stay on track with your sobriety while your body is still learning how to function without substances. At Dream Recovery, our staff is here to support you as you develop the skills you need to overcome cravings and maintain sobriety. To learn more about urge surfing and how it can benefit you, reach out to Dream Recovery at (657) 216-7218.