Tracking Triggers: The Power of the Urge Log in Your Recovery Journey
One of the most challenging aspects of recovery is managing urges. These intense feelings of wanting to engage in addictive behaviors can seem to come out of nowhere, hit with the force of a tidal wave, and feel as though they'll last forever. However, SMART Recovery offers a powerful tool to help you navigate these difficult moments: the Urge Log. This resource is not just a way to record when you experience an urge, but a pathway to understanding your triggers, your responses, and most importantly, your strengths.
Understanding the Urge Log
The Urge Log is a practical tool designed to help you become more aware of your urges. It's a personal diary of sorts, focused specifically on your experiences before, during, and after an urge. By documenting these moments, you're able to analyze what's happening in your mind and body, and over time, discern patterns that can offer profound insights.
- Recording the Urges
The first step in using the Urge Log is to record the urges as they occur. This involves jotting down the specifics: what you were doing when the urge struck, the intensity of the urge, how long it lasted, and any emotions or thoughts you were experiencing at the time. The act of recording this information serves as an immediate tool to create some distance between you and the urge, allowing a moment of mindfulness during tension.
- Identifying the Triggers
As your Urge Log grows, you'll begin to notice patterns. Certain situations, emotions, or thoughts will emerge as triggers, consistently preceding an urge. Identifying these allows you to recognize potential risk factors in your environment or your emotional state, enabling you to prepare or develop coping strategies for these scenarios.
- Reflecting on Your Responses
The Urge Log also prompts reflection on how you respond to urges. Did you engage in the addictive behavior, or did you use a coping mechanism? How did you feel afterward? By being honest with yourself about these responses, you start to understand the consequences of your actions, reinforcing the reasons for your commitment to change.
- Empowering Yourself Through Analysis
Over time, the Urge Log becomes more than a collection of entries — it transforms into a map of your personal journey. You'll see how your urges decrease in frequency and intensity, providing tangible proof of your progress. Additionally, by analyzing your log, you can identify which coping strategies work best for you, empowering you to continue on your recovery path with confidence.
- Sharing Insights in Support Meetings
While the Urge Log is a personal tool, its true power can be amplified through sharing. In SMART Recovery meetings, discussing your Urge Log insights can provide additional perspectives, support, and encouragement. Others may benefit from your experiences, just as you can learn from theirs.
Conclusion: Your Journey, Illuminated
Recovery is not a path walked in the dark; each step you take is illuminated by your insights, understanding, and growth. The Urge Log is a beacon on this journey, shedding light on the triggers, thoughts, and feelings that fuel your urges. It's a testament to your progress, a mirror reflecting your challenges and triumphs, and most importantly, a reminder that you are not defined by your urges, but by your courage to understand and overcome them.
The ABC Model is a good way of understanding how we can help change our feelings and behaviour by challenging our thinking.
When to Use This Tool
The ABC Model is a good way of understanding how we can help change our feelings and behaviour by challenging our thinking. It helps us uncover beliefs that are not helping us /contributing to the behaviour we are trying to change.
This exercise may be done in the group setting but can also be very useful for participants to look at between meetings.
How To Use This Tool
When working with urges: To analyze a lapse/relapse or to develop coping statements for an anticipated lapse/relapse.
In the event of a lapse, the question to ask is not “What made me do that”, but rather, “How did I talk myself into it?” It is not the urge (A) that causes the lapse (C). It is our beliefs (B); our irrational self-talk.
With emotional upset:
The ABC Model can also be used to work with emotional upset or frustrations that may occur at any point in the recovery journey. The ABCs allow us to discover our unhelpful beliefs which contribute to emotional upsets. Disputing helps us eliminate our irrational thinking so we can both feel better and do better. In SMART Recovery we teach that we feel the way we think; it’s not unpleasant events that disturb us, it’s the way we think of them. By changing our thinking, we change how we feel.
Identifying and Disputing Unhelpful Thinking.
Disputing is a process of challenging the way we think about situations. It’s about trying to look at thoughts more accurately. Disputing unhelpful thinking can help us make more informed decisions about thoughts instead of just acting on them. Balanced thinking leads to effective new beliefs.