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The STOP Technique: A Cognitive Tool for Managing Addictions


The STOP technique is an acronym that stands for Stop, Take a breath, Observe, and Proceed mindfully.

It’s a strategy that gives us (hopefully) the ability to interrupt the automatic behaviours associated with substance use urges, providing space for a more beneficial response.

1. Stop: This step encourages a halt in whatever action is currently being taken. It’s an intentional pause that aims to interrupt the momentum towards potentially harmful behaviour.

2. Take a breath: Deep, controlled breathing promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety, slowing down the rush of overwhelming emotions or impulses.

3. Observe: This involves acknowledging thoughts, feelings, and sensations, as well as the environment around. By creating awareness of the present state, we can try and recognize our triggers and responses.

4. Proceed With Care: The final step encourages thoughtful consideration of available options and choosing the response that aligns with what is best for us.