What Can I Do When an Urge or Compulsion Hits?

When we are faced with an addictive urge or compulsion, there are other things we can do that are healthier and more self-protective. The more we practice giving our energy to these other healthier things, the more we’ll develop them as coping mechanisms that we can use to help us recover from our addictions.


Writing can help us work through the anxiety, sadness, frustration and other emotions that can accompany our addictive urges. As we process them, we gain more understanding and acceptance of our difficult emotions. When we resist our emotions by trying to ignore, avoid or deny them, they cause us more pain. Journaling helps us to face them head on in a safe, productive, cathartic way. Becoming comfortable with self-expression is an important part of recovery.

Be in Nature

Nature is soothing, comforting and beautiful, and it reminds us we’re not alone, there is something bigger than us. Sometimes it can be easier to access our spiritual connection to the earth and to our higher power when we’re in nature. Let the power of the natural world bring you calm and help you breathe through your urge.


We can feel a rise in our stress levels when we’re hit with an urge, and walking or any other form of exercise can be a great way to help decrease the physical stress in our bodies. The physical exertion of exercise can be a healthy way to distract ourselves from our addictive urges and compulsions. Don’t forget to breathe!

Talk to Someone

Reach out for support, and talk through the urge – how will you feel if you give in? How did you feel last time you relapsed? Sometimes talking to someone else can give us added perspective. Sometimes simply talking something through can make it feel less scary and take away its power over us.

Talk to Yourself

Tell yourself “You will get through this. You are strong enough to do what’s best for you. This too shall pass. I believe in you.”

Do something you enjoy

Take the focus off of your addiction and do something fun and enjoyable. Not only will it take your mind off of your urge, it will bring you a deeper satisfaction than the temporary high of giving into your urge. Watch a movie, cook a meal, play a game. Fun is an important part of recovery.

We can help you find the tools for recovery that work for you. Call (800) 871-5440.