Addiction is when a person is unable to consistently abstain from a substance or behavior (ASAM). It can be craving alcohol, medication, or other substances. It can be desiring to eat excessively, to shop, to have sex, to gamble, to be on social media, to work, or to exercise.
Whatever it is – it controls you.
Addiction may start with just one drink, enjoying the rush of a big win, or the thrill of swiping a credit card. The high makes everything worth it… at first.
But then, consequences follow. And soon, things can seem out of control. The first step to overcoming addictive behavior is recognizing it. If you are reading this, you may already know that you or someone you love needs help.
Do you or your loved one feel a lack of control to where they cannot stay away from a substance or behavior?
Do you or your loved one stop engaging with friends, family, or relationships?
Do you or your loved one take illogical risks?
Are there physical signs of withdrawal?
Change cannot always happen by yourself. If you want to talk to someone, chat here. We are here to listen.
But once you have recognized this behavior and can see the negative effects it has on your life; you can start taking steps. Here are some helpful suggestions for how to start breaking the chains of addiction.
What do you want to accomplish? Sometimes going from 100 to 0 can be difficult. And sometimes, it can be dangerous. For example, if a person is addicted to eating excessively, not eating at all will cause another harmful disorder.
If you are addicted to nicotine, it’s easier to wane yourself off of cigarettes by doing small doses like patches or gum.
Set a goal that’s achievable – going cold turkey can set a person up for relapse. Talking to a doctor, counselor, or other licensed professional may help so that you can take clear steps towards recovery.
Once you’ve decided to change and have made your goal, it’s time to clean house. What does this mean? To take away anything that might be an emotional trigger or substances within reach.
It’s trashing your stash.
It’s unplugging the video game console, cutting up the credit cards, cleaning out the pantry, or setting up safeguards for porn use.
It’s getting whatever it is as far away as possible.
Success is higher if you have an accountability partner, friend, supportive family member, or a group. Many people know what AA is and there’s also a program called Celebrate Recovery which is for any addictive behaviors or personal struggles.
So, as part of the preparation stage, add that additional safeguard and accountability.
Find the best therapy for you. There are Cognitive Behavior Therapies, online therapy programs, mindfulness approaches, and counseling. Reach out to a trusted professional and find out what will help you achieve your goal.
Once you have talked with a professional, it’s time to quit. When withdrawing from a substance, it can be extremely uncomfortable which is why it is crucial to reach out for professional help. You can go here: samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline as an online resource.
The top cause of going back to the addiction is stress because a person may crave release. Ways to avoid major negative stressors can be getting out of toxic relationships or bad circumstances (financial, physical, job, etc.). It’s also good to be mindful of when you are stressed and what to do when you are.
Trading negative coping mechanisms for positive ones can take time. This is why more people relapse on the first attempt to quit an addiction than find recovery. Relapse does not mean failure; it happens because we are craving what is missing. If you do relapse, you can learn from it and try to understand what and why it happened so you can put safeguards in place for next time.
Many people replace one addictive behavior with another one. The key to avoiding this is being present and enjoying every-day living. It may not have the rush that comes with addictive behavior, but there will be peace.
John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”