Urge Surfing in Addiction Recovery

Urge Surfing in Addiction Recovery

Every person in addiction recovery will at some point experience cravings for a substance they are abstaining from. It’s natural. For some, these cravings are hard to ignore and unfortunately lead to a relapse of substance use. Urge surfing is a method of maintaining and coping with these cravings and preventing relapse. Let’s discuss how you can implement this practice into your recovery plan. 

What is Urge Surfing?

Urge surfing is the therapeutic practice of safely managing unwanted behaviors. Instead of giving in to an urge or craving, you will ride it out, like surfing a wave in the ocean. After an amount of time that varies from person to person, the urge will pass on its own. This practice is used to stop or greatly reduce alcohol and substance use as well as limit other behaviors. Urge Surfing also helps people to feel more in control of their addiction by acknowledging their craving and letting it pass them by. 

Timeline of Urge Surfing

Urge Surfing works as a flow of events and active thought. This timeline can happen quickly so it’s important to be able to recognize the stages and act accordingly.


A craving is triggered by an outside stimulus usually caused by a person, place, object, or other sensory experience. Cravings can even be triggered by a specific sound or scent that an individual associates with substance use. 


The cravings become more intense either gradually or very suddenly. 


The craving arrives at its most intense point or the peak of desire. At this stage, the urge feels all-encompassing and the individual will feel as though the craving will never go away. 


The craving begins to decrease in severity and gradually fade away. 

How to Practice Urge Surfing in Recovery

Acknowledging a craving in early recovery is scary for some people. It can feel like a failure or giving in/giving up in some ways. This is especially true for those who have had to hide or lie about their addictions. But recognizing cravings is healthy and realistic. You’re going to experience urges and it’s important to acknowledge them instead of hiding or suppressing them. The following is an overview of how to practice this method in recovery.


At its heart, Urge Surfing is a meditative practice. So as with most meditative practices, you begin by focusing on your breathing. However, this isn’t about controlling your breathing, just pay attention to how you’re breathing. Be conscious of how the air feels entering your nose and lungs.

Notice Your Thoughts

After a time, you may lose focus on your breathing and your mind may wander. This is normal. Observe your thoughts objectively without suppressing or judging them. And each time you notice your attention has wandered, bring your focus back to your breathing. 

Acknowledge Your Urges

An idle body will eventually crave something to break the stagnation. You may experience the urge to stretch, change positions, or get some water. Or perhaps you get an itch on your body that you have the urge to scratch. Resist these urges but acknowledge their existence. You may even speak these urges out loud if you feel that it helps. 

Focus on the urges and try to quantify the craving you’re experiencing. Is the urge big enough to fit in the palm of your hand or a shoebox? This may be difficult at first. The more you notice a craving, the stronger and more urgent it feels. Remain calm and maintain an attitude of objective curiosity and detachment from the cravings. This process will help you recognize that the strength and urgency of craving do not remain the same for long. It will rise, peak, and ebb away like a tidal wave.

Eudaimonia Can Help Keep You on the Path to Recovery

Eudaimonia offers excellent recovery programs with tailored care. In these programs, individuals can develop positive coping skills with the tools necessary to maintain sobriety. Eudaimonia even provides tailored care based on gender and orientation. We also include supervised, short-term housing to provide support for newly sober individuals. But no matter where you are in your recovery, Eudaimonia Sober Living Homes can provide support every step of the way. We have facilities for sober living in Austin, Houston, and Colorado Springs ready to assist you in living your sober lifestyle. Call Eudaimonia Sober Living Homes at (888) 424 – 4029 for more information on the sober living process and current room availability.

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