Urge surfing

Getting sober has introduced a whole new language to me. How about ‘training the sober muscle’ or this one: urge surfing? It is about when you have a craving and you don’t run away from it but stay with it. It describes very well what I did when reading Jason Vale’s book on quitting with drinking. I still drank at that time. That made it easier to get all the information in and discover some new terrain without being fearful.

WARNING: DON’T READ THIS WHEN YOU HAVE DIFFICULTY WITH CRAVINGS. I found the text brought cravings back.

Quote from Helpguide.org

QUOTE

When you’re struggling with alcohol cravings, try these strategies:

  • Talk to someone you trust: your sponsor, a supportive family member or friend, or someone from your faith community.
  • Distract yourself until the urge passes. Go for a walk, listen to music, do some housecleaning, run an errand, or tackle a quick task.
  • Remind yourself of your reasons for not drinking. When you’re craving alcohol, there’s a tendency to remember the positive effects of drinking and forget the negatives. Remind yourself that drinking won’t really make you feel better.
  • Accept the urge and ride it out, instead of trying to fight it. This is known as “urge surfing.” Think of your craving as an ocean wave that will soon crest, break, and dissipate. When you ride out the craving, without trying to battle, judge, or ignore it, you’ll see that it passes more quickly than you’d think.

The 3 basic steps of urge surfing:

  • Take an inventory of how you experience the craving. Do this by sitting in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands in a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths and focus your attention inward. Allow your attention to wander through your body. Notice where in your body you experience the craving and what the sensations are like. Notice each area where you experience the urge, and tell yourself what you are experiencing. For example, “My craving is in my mouth and nose and in my stomach.”
  • Focus on one area where you are experiencing the urge. Notice the exact sensations in that area. For example, do you feel hot, cold, tingly, or numb? Are your muscles tense or relaxed? How large an area is involved? Notice the sensations and describe them to yourself. Notice the changes that occur in the sensation. “My mouth feels dry and parched. There is tension in my lips and tongue. I keep swallowing. As I exhale, I can imagine the smell and tingle of booze.”
  • Repeat the focusing with each part of your body that experiences the craving. Describe to yourself the changes that occur in the sensations. Notice how the urge comes and goes. Many people, when they urge surf, notice that after a few minutes the craving has vanished. The purpose of this exercise, however, is not to make the craving go away but to experience the craving in a new way. If you practice urge surfing, you will become familiar with your cravings and learn how to ride them out until they go away naturally.

Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

UNQUOTE

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