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8 Helpful Ways to Resist the Temptation to Drink Alcohol

Learning to resist temptation lies at the heart of any attempt at drug or alcohol addiction treatment.

Temptation is often a lifelong struggle that drug and alcohol addicts need to cope with. It is the overwhelming urge to relapse when the right conditions are met, such as certain emotions, events, or sensations are presented. And without adequate knowledge and discipline, it can be extremely hard to resist temptation outside of a controlled environment.

But there are ways you can control and avoid temptation!

While there are hundreds of different techniques that work for different people, we have put together a list of things you can do to help resist temptation and stay on the path of sobriety. From how to resist alcohol temptation to overcoming your drug urges, keep reading to find out how to maintain control. 

1. Identify Your Triggers

The most crucial step in avoiding temptation is understanding what triggers your temptation in the first place.

Drug and alcohol addiction often stems from certain events or emotions that can be triggered by different stimuli. For instance, a certain smell or taste that is associated with the high feeling while on the drug can cause a physical urge to seek out and take that drug. These urges can be extremely powerful, as they have been hardwired into the brain due to the chemical addiction pathways.

Recognizing what these triggers are and then taking reasonable steps to avoid them can help resist temptation from getting too powerful. Avoid places, foods, smells, situations, or even people that you can identify as a trigger. 

Doing this in the earlier stages of rehabilitation can help you develop the strength and willpower to resist temptation in the future when you can gradually start to reintroduce these stimuli if you believe you are up to it.

2. Distraction

Another common but effective method for resisting temptation is by finding something else to do. In other words, taking your mind off drugs or alcohol allows you to fight the urge. 

The urge to relapse can take place suddenly and with an overwhelming intensity. You can feel like you are focused solely on your addiction and resisting it takes all of your mental focus. Finding something else you can do to take your mind off the urge is a great way to help resist temptation. 

Two people working out as a distraction from drinking

Exercising is a well-researched and powerful tool for fighting temptation. Whenever you feel the urge to relapse, putting on your running shoes and going for a job can help clear your mind, refocus, and forget about your temptation. The rush of endorphins you get following your run can help reinforce this positive behaviour, further improving your chances of resisting temptation and preventing relapse into addiction.

3. Therapy

Another great way to learn to resist temptation is by seeking professional help in therapy. Temptation is something that anyone who has had an addiction will struggle with, often for the rest of their lives. Understanding that you are not alone and that there are trained professionals you can call on for help is a great tool for resisting temptation.

Individual therapy can help you identify triggers, learn new techniques for changing thought patterns, and have a safe space to discuss your addiction you might not feel comfortable speaking about with friends or family. 

Group therapy can also be a valuable outlet, as you can speak with others who are going through the same thing, learn from their experiences, and teach them things in return.

4. Develop a Support Network

Similar to the suggestion above, developing a support network is a vital tool in resisting temptation.

Drug and alcohol addiction can be an extremely isolating experience as social relationships are eroded. This can then make addiction rehabilitation a lonely experience as well, as the support network you relied on before your addiction may no longer be there. Having no one to lean on when you need help can drastically increase the chances of a relapse happening.

Develop a support network during your rehabilitation so that you have someone to lean on when you need them. Find others who are going through the same thing, who won’t judge you, and who you can reliably turn to in a time of need. Being able to reach out to them when you feel an urge to relapse can help you work through the temptation without relapsing.

5. Surf the Urge

Another useful technique for resisting temptation is the skill known as urge surfing.

Urge surfing is a particular mindfulness technique that involves accepting that you are experiencing an urge and then taking stock of all of the thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations you notice. Saying these things out loud can help you focus on each aspect of your urge, such as “that smell made me want to take drugs” or “my heart is racing and my breathing is shallow.” 

Being present and mindful of your urge and the symptoms associated with it can help you remember that the urge will eventually pass. This can help strengthen your resolve, as you know that soon you will no longer feel this way and that everything will return to normal in a moment.

6. Self Care

A prevalent technique for resisting temptation is practicing adequate self care.

What self care means will be highly subjective to each individual. Some people will find going to the gym a great way to practice self care. Others will find comfort in taking a long bath and listening to soothing music. Some might spend an afternoon reading a book with a mug of tea. 

Whatever makes you feel good, helps you reset and focus on yourself, and helps you resist temptation can be seen as self care.

 An older woman listening to music and practicing self-care

7. Don’t Put Yourself at Risk

Make a promise to yourself to avoid places and people who put you at risk of relapsing. For example, if you’ve overcome an alcohol addiction, don’t attend parties or gatherings where people are drinking. 

Yes, this typically means that you have to change the places you hang out and the people you surround yourself with. It’s a big step, but it’s necessary for avoiding temptation and living your best life in the future. 

💡 Tip: Don’t let others place the blame on you. You know what’s best for you, so don’t feel bad about removing people from your life who could lead you down the wrong path. 

8. Remain Vigilant 

The longer you go without giving in to temptation the easier it is to believe that you’ll never go back to your old ways. Unfortunately, once you let your guard down the chance of relapsing greatly increases. 

You know what does and doesn’t work for you. You know what triggers your temptations. Remain vigilant so that you can overcome any challenge that you face. 

You Have the Power to Resist Temptation

Resisting temptation is often a lifelong struggle, but it can also be a deeply rewarding experience for any recovering addict. Learning how to resist the urge to relapse can take time and patience, however, your body, mind, and relationships will thank you. 

If you or a loved one is fighting an addiction or losing the battle against temptation, contact us online or via phone at 1-888-241-3391. Our treatment consultants are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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