Defeating Addictive Urges

Posted on August 24, 2016

Anatomy of an Urge

by Farmgirl68 (Connie)

While taking the facilitator training, I watched a video with Joe Gerstein where he showed the ABC relationship with a lapse and how it often involves a belief (B) or a consequence (C) turning into another activating event (A) thus creating a cascade of ABCs.  This intrigued me, and putting it together with the way I had noticed my own urge experiences, I realized most of the time there is a basic pattern an urge takes on for me.  Being a very visual thinker, I began to formulate on my computer screen a picture of how my urges occur.

anatomy of an urge-1The graphic included here is the result of this thought process.  After drawing out the anatomy of an urge, my urges diminished significantly.  It was simpler to see exactly where I was in this process and what I needed to think and do to get out of it.

The diamond shapes represent decision points.  It is clear there are two definite choices at those points – yes or no.  This is an aspect of the graphic I like because it shows me clearly what the choices are and the possible consequences of each.  While in other aspects of my life there may be many choices, with this, there really are just two.  That simplifies it!

Another point made clear from this graphic is even if I choose not to debate my beliefs and spend a lot of time circling through the cycle on the left side, the problem with my belief does not disappear.  This represents why it is that when you stop the addictive behavior you wake up to discover the problems are all still there.

The third point I see from this is there is a path back to abstinence.  It leads directly to the debate (D).  To me this is comforting.  I can make the best choice even after a lapse.

anatomy of an urge blank

One day while I was having some struggles, I was driving and discovered it helped me to visualize where I was at that moment on this graphic.  For that reason, I decided a page with blanks to fill in to personalize the process might be helpful.  Since making it, I have also used it.  Additionally, I made a black and white version for less expensive printing needs.  Hoping some other visual learners will find these helpful.

anatomy of an urge black and white-1

Connie has been a member of SMART for over 16 months and works as a nursing administrator.  She has degrees in nursing, social work, and is currently in a master of nursing program.  She is a mother of four teens and young adults and has recently discovered kayaking while rebuilding her life for herself.

5 thoughts on “Defeating Addictive Urges

  1. pippa59

    I really appreciate this. I’ve made some copies to use and hope it helps. I often find myself well down the path before I identify the event or trigger, and maybe working backwards will help. Thanks!

  2. George Bourassa

    Excellent Connie! This is fantastic.

    I have some further thoughts on digging deeper into strategies to process emotions in that final purple hexagon. If you’re ever up for a chat you can find me on the SMARTCAL boards.

    I think that’s the all-important last step in the process.

    Thanks for taking the time to do this!

  3. David Roberts

    Hi, I like this, but I can’t read the captions inside the boxes. Is it possible to just have the graphics and your narrative without anything else on the page?
    (I am a facilitator in Fresno, CA) Thanks.

    1. Connie

      Hi David,
      If you click on the images within the article, the graphic becomes full page. If that doesn’t work reply here and I send it to you on SMARTCAL if I can find you.

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