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Whether we’re talking about inpatient treatment or outpatient services at the top rehabilitation centres in India or a top de-addiction centres in India, dealing with addiction is often incredibly challenging and requires an abundance of work (and empathy) to ensure that one stays on the right path.

A recovery program at the best de-addiction centres in India teaches you how to respond when cravings arise and give you a life in which you no longer have to worry about being controlled by your addiction.

Just because you’ve passed through treatment for some addiction at one of the best alcohol rehabilitation centres in India, it doesn’t mean that those cravings will go away right after. Many people in recovery will admit to still being affected by their triggers even years later, so what can you do if a craving hit you without warning? Urges are feelings of intense desire for something specific. Urges can be for basic needs, such as wanting to eat when you’re hungry. Other kinds of urges can be for things that are not essential to basic survival, like a candy bar or smoking a cigarette. Some urges can be harmful or unhealthy behaviors. Even if you don’t want to feel the urge, it can be hard to ignore. [1]

Although no one can ignore the powerful feelings of intense cravings related to substance use and addiction, you can wrestle control away from them. By focusing on resisting temptation and non-compulsive behaviors - like spending time with family, going for walks, or doing things you enjoy - it will be easier to fight these temptations in turn.

To get technical for a moment, here are some of the known characteristics of urges that you may be familiar with.

Urges last about 30 minutes and are triggered by certain things associated with your past substance use. During an urge, you might feel a sense of hopelessness or guilt as your desire to give in to your craving is at its peak. However, urges aren’t necessarily associated with the anticipation of pleasurable feelings like the high that you’d get from using for example. Instead, when someone experiences an urge, it's because their brain has created a connection between certain external stimuli and something they use to relieve stress like drinking or smoking. Once an individual recognizes that this association exists and regulates his/her reactions when in stressful situations instead of giving in to an urge, it will gradually subside over time.

One strategy for how to deal with cravings is the Urge Surfing approach. It combines a physical and mindful element to help you tackle the things you want to avoid. Instead of fighting it, judging it, or ignoring it - try learning how to ride out the emotions by sitting quietly and taking some deep breaths as much as possible. In this way, you will better learn how to conquer your cravings without being tethered by them.

How To “Urge Surf”?

Picture the craving like it’s a wave that will break eventually. It’s like an ocean when you're on the shore and far away from where the waves are crashing. But once you start to get closer, it becomes more obvious how wide and forceful they really are. This is similar to cravings because once our triggers come into play, we don't often realize just how intense they'll be before we give in to them. When we feel ourselves giving way to temptation—just as if we were feeling a large wave coming over us—it's time to step back from whatever you're doing and let it pass for now. Like a surfer would do in this situation, sit back and wait for it to crest before turning into foamy surf rather than fighting with the wave head-on and getting swamped by its intensity!

Start by practicing being mindful of your thoughts. Practice deep breathing, being mindful of your breath the entire time you are breathing. Do not modify your breathing, just breathe and focus on it. Focus on your body. Try to pinpoint the area of your body these sensations originate. Notice what is occurring. The following are some examples of what you may be able to notice: Are you feeling tightness or pressure in your body right now? Do you have this feeling all the time or does it come and go? Does your temperature change while experiencing these feelings, such as your gut-growing warm or something feeling warmer in your head? Do these sensations stick around or do they also quickly leave? Where do you feel these sensations located on your body? Draw a border around this sensation. Are the borders hard, stopping in one exact place, or does the feeling dissipate into your body? Take note of how the experience changes over time over time. Take interest in the experience of this sensation and that you are learning more about yourself, but don't fear any of it. If you notice your mind wandering, that means you're in control. Keep a track of the feeling of wandering for about a minute. Pay attention to thoughts or feelings that may come up as a result and focus on bringing yourself back to your breathing. As soon as you bring yourself back, try not to think about whatever it was you were just thinking about but remain focused on your breath instead. Focus on riding out the thought like a wave; by doing so you will have an easier time getting through it. [2]

Urge surfing is a form of mindfulness that is used to help people work through challenges, especially when it comes down to things like overcoming cravings and/or resisting the urge to do something unhealthy. Being mindful of your experience can help you overcome urges so as not to give in to them. When it comes down to it, you may know how you should act but when an urge hits, your mind has a tendency to be more focused on pleasurable feelings instead of negative ones.

Another way of dealing with urges is from “Coping with Urges and Cravings” Point 2 of the SMART Recovery 4-Point Program®. Some of the approaches that work best for many are summarized with the easy-to-remember acronym DEADS – as in “Combat Urges DEADS.” Each letter stands for a useful approach: [3]

D = Delay. Urges and cravings can be powerful but they're not permanent. If you don't give in, they'll fade eventually. Waiting out urges and resisting cravings is possible when you develop a tolerance for them and know you can resist them again and again. The more you stand up to urges and cravings, the less severe an urge will be when it happens next time.

E = Escape. Just leave or get away from the trigger. Instead of staring at the bar and its beer taps, simply walk towards the exit. If you’re shopping in a store and find yourself face-to-face with your favorite wines, ignore them by walking away. Lastly, if alcohol is promoted on television, change to another channel. When you've successfully distanced yourself from that which triggered your desire to drink (or react negatively), you will be able to focus your mind on something new – which will quickly lessen that urge!

A = Accept. Understand that the cravings and emotions you may experience during recovery from addiction are a normal part of the process. It’s important to remember everyone deals with these urges and feelings a little differently. Being able to accept discomfort when it arises is an important part of this journey. It doesn’t “have to” be unhealthy or “will kill” you because even if it feels like that right now, it’ll pass quickly. Learn how to focus on your accomplishments while continuing to seek support throughout your recovery so that each day can continue to bring positivity into your life!

D = Dispute. Use a counter statement to help you attack your urge and craving. This will help you rationally diagnose past addictive events and develop useful tactics for dismissing them quickly.

S = Substitute. When a craving rises, try and think of what is a healthier alternative to satisfy it. Going for a walk or having some form of recreational activity on hand like reading, listening to music, and so on are good examples of how an individual can respond in ways that will not only inhibit the craving as quickly as possible but also make one feel better about their state of mind overall in the time after the initial encounter. [3]

Connect with professionals and staff members at rehabsindia.in to learn more about licensed addiction treatment programs in India at the best alcohol rehab in India and what you can do to set yourself up for success in your recovery.

REFERENCES-
  1. 1. Web MD. What Is Urge Surfing? By Olivia Hart. (2021). Retrieved on 10th April 2022 from https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/what-is-urge-surfing
  2. 2. Smith, A. (2006). “Like Waking Up From A Dream”: Mindfulness Training For Older People With Anxiety And Depression. Mindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches, 191–215. doi: 10.1016/b978-012088519-0/50010-1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2006-02929-009
  3. 3. 5 Ways to Deal With Urges and Cravings. The SMART Recovery. (2017) Randy Lindel. Retrieved on 10th April 2022 from https://www.smartrecovery.org/5-ways-to-deal-with-urges-and-cravings/


AUTHOR- Dr. Niharika Singh (MBBS, MD Psychiatry, MIPS)

Dr. Niharika Singh received her MBBS degree from Kurukshetra University, following which she went on to complete MD Psychiatry from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bangalore. During her residency program, she pursued her thesis on psychosocial factors and the personality profiles of early and late-onset alcohol dependence syndrome. With a view to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field of mental health, she then continued to train regularly with premier institutes such as Harvard Medical School - McLean Hospital (USA) in Mind-Body Medicine, Beck Institute (USA) in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, NIMHANS (Bangalore) in Addiction Psychiatry, Behaviour Medicine, Clinical Neurophysiology and Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation and has completed Fellowship in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation from Duke University (USA). After post-graduation, her goal has been to inform the public about addiction issues. Her mission is to help those in need of treatment find the best option for them. And with this being her consistent vision, she believes in de-stigmatizing the field of addiction psychiatry and rehabilitation center treatment in India and has been working at a licensed dual-diagnosis facility in New Delhi. Through her contributions to rehabsindia.in she aims at providing licensed, professional rehabilitative care choices to patients and their families.

REVIEWED BY- Gauri Kapoor (Addiction Recovery Counselor)

Gauri Kapoor embarked on her journey into sobriety 7 years ago, which led her to her current career path as a Certified Professional Addiction Recovery Coach in Delhi, India. She works closely with facilities that provide residential addiction treatment such as 12-Step programs and other nonprofits to help individuals deal with their addiction.

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