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SMART Recovery Tool: Destructive Images and Self-Talk Awareness and Refusal Method (DISARM)

  • Point 2: Cope with Urges
  • Point 3: Manage Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors

DISARM is a tool that helps us see the self-talk and images that tell us to use as lies, excuses, and rationalizations. It challenges those urge-producing thoughts at every opportunity, shooting them down like a gunslinger or reducing them to the point of absurdity.

All humans, not just humans with substance abuse problems, have thoughts, urges, or other impulses, which if followed, would harm their long-term interests. Realizing the power of what you think/believe about strong urges to use, and changing that distorted thinking, is crucial to your success. Indeed, the trouble with a philosophy of “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” is that tomorrow comes and we aren’t dead!

So, we are wise to first make ourselves aware of our destructive self-talk (thinking that is contrary to our long-term interests) and then refuse to go along with it. While you cannot will yourself not to have certain thoughts or feelings, including strong urges, you can learn how to recognize those thoughts for what they are: lies, excuses, and rationalizations. You can learn to DISARM them and walk away from the situation or get yourself involved with something other than focusing on your urge to use.

Click here to read more about the DISARM tool.

Tips & Tools for Recovery that Works!


The DISARM method allows individuals experiencing cravings to carefully and rationally answer a few key questions. The results will help the person 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.

View this helpful video on YouTube.