Tackling Urges and Maintaining a Sober Focus

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Urges are an unfortunate inevitability throughout any stage of addiction recovery. Often, they are prevalent during the beginning of one’s sober journey in detox or residential programs. However, it is still common to experience them even after graduating from a treatment program. Balancing one’s recovery and personal life can also cause urges as well. 

Being able to tackle urges whenever they may surface while maintaining focus on one’s sober goals and personal ambitions is a skill necessary for a healthy and prolonged recovery. Personalizing one’s skills to cope with these urges is a crucial part of planning for and overcoming urges at any stage in one’s recovery journey. 

What Are Urges?

Urges are compulsions to re-engage with addictive substances. They can manifest even if an individual has been maintaining their sobriety and engaging in healthy, sober practices. While these urges can often be closely tied to particular stressors in one’s recovery, some may seem to occur at random times without the influence of a stressor. 

These urges can feel overwhelming. Eventually, they can even take over an individual’s entire focus. The thoughts about using addictive substances can become invasive, disruptive, and dangerous to one’s sobriety. An individual may feel as if they need to re-engage with drugs, alcohol, or other addictions. 

While urges do pass in time, the time it takes can vary from instance to instance. For some, their urges can last just a few minutes. Others may feel their battle with an urge lasts for much longer, stretching from 20 to 30 minutes or more if left unaddressed. 

Combatting these urges can be exhausting. Those coping with urges can become mentally, physically, and emotionally fatigued if proper coping strategies are not employed. This can make it easier to fall back into destructive thinking and behaviors. 

Preparing for Urges

Urges are going to be a part of every person’s recovery journey. While they are unfortunate hurdles that can be difficult to overcome, simply experiencing an urge is nothing to feel guilty about. Urges happen and they do not indicate that an individual is somehow failing in their recovery or that it is beyond their ability to remain sober. 

Rather, urges are impulses that everyone will experience. Preparing for them can ensure that one has the necessary strategies and practices to navigate urges effectively and remain focused on sobriety. 

Use Grounding Strategies

Grounding strategies are essential in navigating urges. Due to the intense nature of urges, it can cause individuals to feel compelled to act on impulse rather than on their decision-making skills learned in recovery. Grounding strategies can help situate individuals in their present moment, providing extra time to identify, process, and decide the correct course of action. 

Practicing grounding strategies can include regularly touching and naming objects in one’s vicinity, engaging in mindfulness practices, or employing regulated breathing techniques. These can all provide a sense of agency and time needed to process an urge and let it subside. 

Move Your Body

Grounding strategies can help an individual identify when an urge is striking and can inform their next actions. However, that does not mean that the urge has necessarily passed by this point. Rather, grounding strategies can help an individual better employ an appropriate coping strategy. 

Getting the mind and body moving is essential in processing an urge safely. Going for a walk or jog, either by oneself or with a friend can provide a physical outlet for stress and help you move past the urge. Listening to music and tapping one’s foot with the beat while embracing the lyrics and sounds can allow the urge to pass by. Even taking a break to water the garden is a great way for an individual to focus their body and mind while processing an urge. 

Urges will pass in time, and it is important to keep yourself distracted from the temptation to use substances when urges do manifest. 

Focus On Your Goals for Sobriety

Staying aware of one’s sober goals during an urge can help inform their decisions. Even while navigating this difficult time finding ways to remind oneself of their sober goals can help motivate an individual to stay sober and maintain their recovery

Having a few personal mantras that you can read or say to yourself can help remind you of your sober goals and keep you motivated in your recovery. Positive and inspiring imagery, such as motivational posters or pictures taken with friends, family, or sober supports, can all help to keep one’s sobriety in focus. When facing an urge to re-engage with addictive substances, having these tools can prove to be very effective.

Urges are a difficult part of any stage of the recovery process, and it is important to prepare for them so you can process urges without the risk of relapse. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we understand the unique difficulties that urges present for individuals at every stage of recovery. We are prepared to help you develop your own personal strategies for navigating urges and prioritizing your sobriety and recovery. Your time with us can be personalized to fit your needs and the unique ways that urges may affect you. We will work with you to create an individualized plan based on your needs. Individual and group therapy, writing therapy, education, relapse prevention, and more are all available, all backed by our caring staff and home-like atmosphere. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (866) 388-6925.

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