When to use this tool: Use this tool to help participants remember strategies that will help them think clearly about how to deal with an urge, no matter how intense it is.
Example of its use in a SMART meeting:
1. Write down each of the following and EXPLAIN:
D = Deny/Delay: Refuse to give into the urge NO MATTER WHAT and delay acting on it. Remind yourself, repeatedly if necessary, THIS urge will pass in 10-20 minutes.
E = Escape: If you know what is causing the urge, like you’re driving by a bar, a dealer’s house, a casino, etc., remove yourself from the source quickly — run if you have to — and wait for the urge to pass.
A = Avoid: You can keep track of your urges with an Urge Log. Urges can occur as part of a daily routine or weekly pattern, and are usually associated with something — a person, place, thing, etc. If you know in advance you’ll be in an urge-producing situation later in the week or month, PLAN to avoid it by using a Weekly Planner.
A = Attack the urge using a tool: What tools and strategies have you used to get through an urge? Perhaps DISARM, DIBs, REI, Urge Surfing, or an ABC? What kind of success have you had with these? How did they help?
A = Accept the urge: Tell yourself the urge will pass soon and if you don’t give in to it, the next urges will be less intense and come on less often. Sit down quietly and allow yourself to feel the urge build and then fade away.
D = Distract: Do something — go for a walk, meditate, read a book, watch TV, clean your house. Do anything to put your mind on something else. Make a list of activities you could do to distract yourself. When you get an urge, take out the list — or make the list while you’re feeling the urge — choose an activity and do it, no matter how you feel. Sometimes you can enjoy an activity once you start it. Very often, motivation follows action.
S = Substitute: Substitute the harmful behavior with a healthy activity. Exercise, go shopping, prepare a meal, have a cup of coffee or a refreshing drink. You can substitute an irrational belief (“this urge will kill me”) with a rational one (“this urge is bad but it won’t kill me and it will pass”). You can drink soda and lime, root beer, ginger beer or ginger ale instead of a beer. You can take your dog for a walk instead of drinking a bottle of wine. You can go swimming instead of smoking a joint or snorting a line of cocaine.
2. Ask the participants which strategy works for them: Has anyone used any of these? How do you do it and how does that work for you?
- Public-Facing Toolbox Page: www.smartrecovery.org/deads
- Updated Tool PDF (03/2021): https://www.smartrecovery.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/DEADs.pdf
- Video Link: https://youtu.be/rHl3STAGl-I