Overcoming addiction requires understanding what it is and how it affects you. Don’t let addiction control you. Here’s how to do that.
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Overcoming Addiction and Avoiding Relapse
I saw a bumper sticker on a flashy sports car that said, “I’m not addicted to coffee; we’re just in a committed relationship!”
You can remove coffee from that statement and fill it in with almost anything and it is applicable to any kind of addiction.
People with addictions are in a committed relationship with drugs, alcohol, tobacco, diet coke, video games, gambling, the Internet, pornography, working out, or even cosmetic surgery. I am sure you can list plenty more.
Truly, anyone can be addicted to almost anything. Of course, there are things you truly cannot go without like breathing, sleeping, and eating; I guess we're all addicted to those.
The professional journal Psychology Today states, “Addiction is a condition in which a person engages in the use of a substance or in a behavior for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behavior despite detrimental consequences. Addiction may involve the use of substances such as alcohol, inhalants, opioids, cocaine, nicotine, and others, or behaviors such as gambling.”
People who have developed an addiction may not be aware their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.”
The Genetics of Addiction
Most research today concludes there may actually be a genetic predisposition for addiction, an inherited trait, possibly even an addictive personality. I personally have alcohol, drug, and nicotine addiction in my family; who knows, I may be an alcoholic, but I will never know if I never take that first drink.
Most addiction begins with a small amount, and as time goes by, the person develops a tolerance, requiring more of the substance or activity to bring about the same desired response.
Nobody starts off thinking they're going to end up an addict. We have all witnessed addictions change the entire course of someone’s life, destroying dreams, and erasing potential.
Tragically, addiction is not a spectator sport; sooner or later, it will involve the person's whole family and closest friends. Rarely, and I mean extremely rarely, can a chronically habituated, genuinely addicted person successfully get over their problem alone; it takes support, and quite often, professional direction.
There is a psychology and physiology to every unhealthy dependence. Counter-intuitively, the physical dependence is usually easier to get over.
The psychological habituation is more difficult to identify and get at and may become a lifelong emotional ball and chain, threatening to flare-up again whenever stress or pressure becomes uncomfortable. That’s because it affects a person’s mental health.
Their brains trick them into craving these unhealthy substances, and the body even develops mild to severe withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction Destroys Lives
It's not hard to notice that many, particularly of the younger generation, have become prisoners to their mobile phones, maybe that’s why they call them “cell” phones.
The point is, no matter how innocent, pleasurable, or even good a substance or activity is on the surface, if it interferes with or sabotages responsibilities, routines, or relationships, it has crossed the line from healthy into addiction.
Ask yourself the question, do you use it or does it use you? I’ve witnessed video game addictions break up loving, long-term marriages; gambling devastate families; selfies wreck reputations; substances originally designed to be part of a medical treatment plan for an injury destroy careers; social drinking land a person in financial ruin, jail, or even in the cemetery.
The journey from healthy to habit to addiction can be a slippery one. If you cannot be objective in your own particular case, ask your closest friends or loved ones to be honest if they feel your pleasure has turned into an addiction.
That’s a pretty bold and dangerous question, but it may be very revealing. If you discover you have become compulsively dependent on something and it is controlling you instead of you controlling it, what do you do?
How to Overcome Addiction
So how can you start addiction recovery? Follow the steps below to break addictive behaviors.
1. Decide to Change
One of the most important steps on the road to recovery is to make the decision to change.
The change can be to quit cold turkey or just a small step towards totally overcoming it. Some may decide to stop drinking alcohol but still continue to smoke cigarettes, while others may decide to quit any and all bad habits entirely.
It also helps to have a specific goal in mind once a decision has been made. For example, people with junk food addiction may decide to lose weight after six months.
2. Avoid the Offender
Alcoholics should stay out of bars and avoid places where alcohol is easily available. People suffering from alcohol addiction find it hard to break the habit because drinking is such a social practice.
Adult gatherings tend to include alcohol which can be tempting for people trying to quit drinking.
Video game addicts should get outdoors more or at least put definite limits on their playing time. Going on short walks around the neighborhood can help break the video game addiction.
It also helps to hang out with friends who are more active outdoors or at least, do not play video games all day.
If junk food is the addiction, don’t stock it in your kitchen or pantry.
3. Substitute Something in Place of the Offender
When struggling with the urge to indulge, replace it.
If you want a cigarette; chew gum, play with a toothpick, take a short walk, or drop down and do some push-ups, until the temptation or need passes.
People who want to eat junk food all day should change their grocery purchases. Start practicing healthy habits like buying more fruits and vegetables instead of potato chips.
If you plan on losing weight to control binge eating, add supplements in your diet to help you get the nutrients you need without overeating. Sunwarrior Ormus Super Greens can be added to meals or made into a smoothie for a nutritional boost.
Use wisdom, and stay in control; you don't want to just swap your addiction for another one.
4. Get Help
If you find you just can't break the cycle on your own, get some support.
There are experts who can guide you through the minefield, whether it requires counseling, a 12-step program, or a residential addiction recovery facility. The strength of the approach needs to match the power of the addiction.
Joining support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous helps people suffering from addiction to address their problems with people with the same issues.
5. Cope with Withdrawal Symptoms
The journey to overcoming addiction completely doesn’t stop at getting help. Coping skills are tested as well.
Withdrawal symptoms may seem too hard to get through for some people.
For people getting over substance addiction like drugs and alcohol, withdrawal may become too painful, like experiencing a life-threatening fever or flu.
Total withdrawal from heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, or even alcohol may require help from professionals in a rehabilitation facility, especially for people with substance abuse spanning years or decades.
6. Cope with Relapse
Overcoming addiction, like any other aspect of life, will not be a sunshine-filled walk in the park. Recovering addicts always face temptations as they work through their issues.
Sometimes, relapses happen. That’s especially true for those who still hang around people they share their addiction with.
When a relapse happens, it’s important to not see it as a failure. Doing so only discourages them from pushing through with their sobriety.
Instead of thinking of a relapse as a discouragement, view it as a learning stage in the journey towards complete recovery. Going through a relapse helps recovering addicts identify triggers and weaknesses.
That way, they are able to avoid these things for relapse prevention in the future.
Do not be afraid to talk to someone about your addiction. Vocalizing the weakness is the first step toward controlling it instead of letting it control you.
Take inspiration from this video from Sunwarrior. Start a bucket list and take control of your life today:
Don't be in denial like the desperate person who said, “I'm not addicted to Facebook, I just use it when I have the time; like lunch time, dinner time, this time, that time, all the time.”
Get help. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Are you in the process of overcoming addiction? Share your progress with us in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 2, 2019, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.