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  • Writer's pictureStefan Neff

Why do your triggers lead to urges & cravings?

Here are some tips in understanding urges and cravings:

  1. Identify what caused the trigger in first place?

  2. How were you feeling just before you felt like drinking?

  3. What were you telling yourself just before you started to drink or drug? (Look for additional, hidden negative thoughts.)

  4. What where you doing when you were triggered?

  5. Which unhealthy or healthy thoughts led to which addictive feelings and behaviours?

  6. What was the chain of events led to the thoughts, feelings, and actions to use your drug of choice?

  7. What could you have told yourself that created the thought that led to feeling to use?

  8. What could you have done at that moment that caused the urge?

  9. What emotions could you have pushed yourself to feel before the craving & urge?

  10. How do you feel now about what happened during this situation?


Self-control’ is: a) what you build up, develop, create, learn by controlling your behaviour repeatedly – regard self-control as a skill;

b) NOT a THING you have [or don’t have] that lets you control your behaviour [or not].

When some one says:

‘I have no self-control over my drinking,’ or whatever.

I can ask: ‘Are you well practiced at resisting urges or opportunities to use.’

The answer is:

‘no’. This person is well practiced in giving in to those urges and opportunities.

Self-control over urges and opportunities is like self-control over bicycles and roller skates — you get it by practicing.

The reason individuals, correctly, feel they don’t have it is because they haven’t been practicing that which gives it to them. In this case, the SKILL not well practiced is resisting urges and opportunities to use.

That is why those who do practice resisting urges [self-control], after awhile, report that it becomes easier and easier to continue. They have been exercising and building their self control and now have begun to show a fair bit of this skill.

In every day language, thinking you must first have self-control before you acquire a change in your behaviour is ‘putting the cart before the horse.’ Self- control comes from making the change in your behaviour.

Self-control may also involve other strategies. We might add that self-control may involve learning new strategies to bridge the difficult initial learning period.

In one famous study, children were left with a candy bar and told that if they didn’t eat it they would get two candy bars. The children who resisted the temptation while alone were secretly observed and found to use verbal self-reminders and distracting activities.

Children who didn’t resist were later able to do so after being taught strategies for better self-control.

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