HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol

Urge Management for Alcohol Cravings

This urge management exercise is based on the principles of DBT (Dialectal Behavioral Therapy)

If you have the urge to drink:

  1. Delay the urge
  2. Rate the intensity of the urge on a scale of 1-10
  3. Invoke a 15 minute delay using a timer (and longer is even better)
  4. Distract yourself by moving your attention to something else
    1. It has to be a pleasant activity
    2. Choose something incompatible with the urge to drink, so away from the temptation
    3. It needs to be opposite of the intention of the urge
  5. Write out the Pros and Cons using your Wise Mind before you make the decision to follow the urge to drink. What does your true self want? This 4 quadrant list builds more and more what your true self wants Describe facts; no judgment of self
    1. Pros of drinking
    2. Cons of drinking
    3. Pros of not drinking
    4. Cons of not drinking
  6. Re-check the urge to drink intensity If it is down -- safely go on with your day. If it is the same, do the 15 minute rule again

Repeat as many times as needed. Again, the more you practice this, the better and quicker it works.

If your urge is a 10 when you start the exercise, you are allowed to tell yourself that you can drink after you do the complete exercise if you know you are more in Wise Mind and are making an adult choice to do it because it is the best you can do at the time.

This will work whether you are choosing abstinence, or are choosing to control how much you drink.

It can also work with other types of urges as well as drinking urges, including inappropriately calling, emailing or texting someone when you are upset with them.

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