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What Is “Urge Surfing” and How Does It Work?

Many individuals with SUD deal with urges to use substances again. Sometimes urges can become so powerful that you cannot resist them. However, what if you could harness your urges? A new SUD recovery strategy called Urge Surfing has been gaining popularity as an innovative way to manage substance-related urges. 

Urge Surfing encourages individuals to ride out or “surf” their cravings rather than act on them. Real-world experiences with this method can help individuals avoid relapse. Let’s take a closer look at what urge surfing is and how it benefits recovery.  

Why Do Urges Occur? 

Urges occur for many reasons. Urges are common for individuals with a SUD. Urges stem from the body’s cravings to use substances. Regardless, if the individual stops using substances, they may experience certain feelings, circumstances, thoughts, or experiences that will trigger the urges. Some specific triggers include:

  • Experiencing withdrawal from drugs increases the intensity of urges
  • Going through a stressful moment in life
  • Experiencing mental health issues, especially if not treated by professionals
  • Lack of a support system can leave recovery vulnerable to urges

What Is Urge Surfing?

Urge surfing sessions can last minutes or hours, depending on the severity of your craving. However, listening to your thoughts and actively engaging with the urge reduces your impulse to use. Urge surfing accomplishes this by implementing the power of mindfulness into the practice, which can help you overcome cravings by actively engaging with them rather than trying to resist them. 

In contrast to other relapse prevention techniques, urge surfing relies on learning to use your innate urges to keep your craving in check. If you live with a SUD, challenges often arise in resisting the temptation. Yet, this technique teaches you to face the temptation head-on with confidence and preparation. 

How to Practice Urge Surfing

During the initial sessions with a practitioner, you will acquire somewhat of a roadmap to understand your urges. The practitioner will also explain the fleeting nature of urges. 

As such, participants must refrain from reinforcing the nature of these urges. Instead of indulging the urge by resuming substance use, you can choose to let it pass. Allowing it to pass increases the odds of it subsiding.

Over time, this practice helps strengthen your resolve and reduce your urges. However, if you choose to feed the urges, the urge will continue to grow stronger. For this reason, the practitioner will emphasize the belief that you have control over your choices. Essentially, you can choose to ride the urge with this mindful practice. 

Here are some effective steps to help you get started on the practice of urge surfing.

  • Focus on Your Urge: Pay attention to the urge, the length of time, and how strong it is. Doing so might help you become aware of what triggers your urge to use substances.
  • Choice: Make an active choice to engage with the urge. Instead of seeking a distraction, face it directly. Allow your emotions to flow through you. Doing so will help you understand the “what” and the “why” behind your feelings.
  • Find a Comfortable Position: You can stand or sit in any position, so long as you are comfortable.
  • Resist Judgment: Do not judge yourself during this process. Doing so will only perpetuate anxiety and negative thoughts.
  • Breathing: Deep breathing techniques help calm your central nervous system and reduce stress and anxiety during an urge. Taking a few minutes in your day to regulate your breathing will also improve your mood.

Now, you can start surfacing. Realize that you don’t need to use drugs. Instead, focus on surfing to the point where the urge passes through your mind. Ultimately, this technique gives your mind time to quiet down. Moreso, it gives you a break before taking action. It allows you to get in touch with what is truly important in life, like keeping yourself and your relationships happy and healthy

Is Urge Surfing Right for You? 

Sitting with and facing your emotions is a necessary part of recovery. Therefore, urge surfing can be a beneficial tool because it incorporates other effective methods such as mindfulness into the practice. Such practices are essential for continuing to help you develop resilience, confidence, and the persistence necessary to continue to grow in recovery

Additionally, urge surfing is a practice that helps you avoid suppressing emotions or triggering shame and instead uses self-compassion techniques to help you overcome unhealthy habits. It might take some time to implement and use effectively, but it will be a pursuit well worth the effort. 

Urge surfing is a valuable technique that can help teenagers recover from a SUD. However, some teens find it difficult to handle their urges concerning substance use, but Clearfork Acadamey can help. We offer various options to care, including mindfulness and breathwork techniques. Additionally, our medically-supervised detoxes and behavioral therapy will provide the atmosphere necessary to develop the skills to resist urges. When your teen learns how to manage their urges, they can continue to build upon these learned techniques to develop resiliency long after treatment. Soon, your teenager will have the education and confidence necessary to navigate the challenges that come with recovery. Of course, if they should ever meet a challenge they cannot face, we remain a point of support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If your teen needs help, get help today. To learn more, reach out to Clearfork Academy and call (817) 259-2597.

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