Toolbox - DISARM

DISARM - Facilitators' Edition

Point 2, Point 3,


When to use this tool: When a member of your group indicates that he/she has been having strong urges—whether or not he/she given in to them. The DISARM method allows the individual experiencing the craving to carefully and rationally answer a few key questions. The results will help the individual to understand that the urge truly can be overcome, and that as success is experienced, the urges will be less strong and will occur less frequently.

Example of its use in a SMART meeting: Ask the group member to ask and answer the following questions. (NOTE: these questions are valid for all group members if/when they experience a strong urge).

Question: Do I have to give in to the urge because it is intense and hard to resist?

Answer: No, I don’t have to give in. Because the urge is strong, it would be easy to give in, but I don’t HAVE TO. I have had urges that I did not give in to, therefore it must be possible to resist.


Question: Will it be awful to deny myself by not giving into the urge?

Answer: No, it won’t be awful. It may be quite unpleasant, but unpleasant is not awful, it’s just unpleasant. If I don’t give in to the urge, it will get weaker and come less frequently. If I do give in, the urge will stay strong, be harder to resist next time and show up more frequently.


Question: Is it really unbearable not to give into this urge?

Answer: I don’t like the way it feels to deny my urge, but since it doesn’t kill me not to give in, I can keep on resisting. (Remember, individuals drinking large amounts of alcohol may need to go to a detox center when they first stop because the sudden end of alcohol really could be injurious.)


Question: Am I somehow entitled to be able to give up using without strong urges to go back to using?

Answer: No! I don’t have a note from God, my mother, SMART Recovery group members or anyone else which entitles me not to have strong urges to use. It may be unpleasant to resist some of my urges, but no one gave me a “get out of unpleasantness free” card.

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