We appreciate that Urge Surfing might not be a technique that is used by every Youth AoD counsellor out there.

It also won’t be used for every clients that walks through the doors, but there might be a few (of each) who wish to explore this further and give it a go, it might even be a young person who asks you to support them in learning more about it. So understanding Urge Surfing even at the most basic level is important.

What is Urge Surfing and how can it be used for those wising to withdraw or reduce their substance use? Some believe that urge surfing is a useful technique to help prevent slip ups and relapse. Some would say that an urge is a physical sensation to do something that is felt through out or in different parts of the body. They can start at any time, there is often no rhyme or reason as to why these sensations are felt. Sometimes there might be an external stimulus (such as a smell, taste or a feeling) that forces the urge into ones mind. If someone has capacity to let the urge ride itself out, they usually only last up to 20 or 30 minutes.

Unfortunately many people who use substances wish to alleviate the discomfort that the urge brings with it, by using their substance of choice. So what does that mean for those who wish to learn how to “Urge Surf” through the discomfort and reduce their use or cope with cravings and withdrawal?

If a person is able to notice when the urge first appears/ starts, notice how their body reacts to an urge, take note of the urge and where it is located in the body, isolate it and begin to understand it, begin to focus on breathing for 2 minutes, then focus on where the urge was in their body, acknowledge the changes in the urge and body, this is urge surfing.


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