How To Overcome An Addiction
When people talk about addiction, they usually think of hard drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. But the truth is that most of us are all prone to some level of addiction, whether it is video games, gambling, food or other activities. If you’re unable to overcome an addiction, it’s usually not because your mind is not strong enough, but that you’re not applying the right strategies.
Overcome an Addiction
Step 1: Face Up To Your Addiction
Believe it or not, the first step of conquering addiction is to realize you have one in the first place. Most people subconsciously know when they’re addicted to something, yet choose to consciously ignore or trivialize it. You need to face up to yourself and acknowledge that “I have a problem and I need to fix it.”
The best way to do this is to write down why you need to change. For example, a gambling addiction drains your budget, makes you stressed and frustrated, while an addiction to cigarettes damages your health as well as people around you. Once you see all the bad effects and how they are sabotaging your life, you’ll have a stronger incentive to stop your addiction.
It is important to also think of the positive things that will come once the addiction is eradicated. You can have more money to spend and have better relationships with those around you. It is recommended that you make multiple copies of all the reasons for quitting something and stick them around the house so your mind is constantly reminded of it.
Step 2: Make a Detailed Plan
Set a Date
It is vital to set a deadline for your addiction. If you set a date too soon, you may not be able to handle it, thus feeling frustrated again. But if you set it too far, your mind becomes too comfortable with no real motivation because the human brain always prioritizes what in the near future rather than the distant one.
Get Rid of Your Triggers
Addicts usually have certain things that will push them towards their addiction. For example, a family gathering can be a trigger for alcoholics, and the smell of food can be a trigger for someone who’s trying to lose weight.
The first thing to do is to avoid all stress-inducing situations, for stress is a trigger for almost all kinds of addiction. When you feel horrible, you start saying “I just need this one cigarette then I’ll feel better.
After that, get rid of all the triggers around you. Throw away any leftover candies in the cupboard, stop hanging out with that friend who invites you to bars, choose a different way home where you don’t pass by your favorite bakery.
Reduce The Volume of Consumption Gradually
Quitting cold-turkey rarely ever works, so you should try to cut down on your addiction daily. If you normally smoke 10 cigarettes a day, try to cut it down to 9 on the next day, then 8, 7, 6…
There’s another interesting strategy you can apply, which is to replace the ‘substance’ with something less strong and harmful. For instance, you can try drinks that have minimal alcohol levels, cigarettes with less nicotine or candies made with artificial sweeteners.
If you have a gambling problem, you should consider joining social casinos, which don’t deal with real money and focus more on interactions between players globally. They are similar enough to trick your brain, yet take away the ‘gambling’ aspect altogether. The point is that overcoming an addiction requires a plan.
Get Personal or Professional Help
Few battles are won with one soldier. If you have someone you can trust, tell them about what you want to do and they can provide emotional support along the way. A big reason for relapses is that the addicted feel alone and alienated.
If possible, consult a professional to help you with your journey. There are many institutions who have encountered people with the exact same problem as you so they know very well the best way to support you. A therapist can help you dig deep into why your addiction started, so you have a better understanding of yourself.
Refresh Your Environment
Have you ever had the feeling of being a new person when you move to a new city? Well, you should definitely try to recreate the feeling of being reborn by redecorating your environment. It will encourage you to fight for a fresh start.
Clean your room thoroughly. How tidy a room is directly correlates with someone’s mental state. Maybe buy some new sheets, furniture and decorations: when your environment looks beautiful, you start to appreciate what you have more.
Step 3: Action
When the deadline comes, commit to the mission no matter what. The first few days are the most difficult, so when you are struggling, remind yourself that tomorrow will be better.
Idleness is the source of all vices, being bored is a ticket to relapses. So fill your time with any activities—what matters is that they distract you from thinking about your addiction. A few suggestions include joining a new club, picking up running or swimming, learning a new instrument…
One thing to remember: any activities with other people are better than without. Not only you can make new friends but you will also have more responsibilities to commit to that activity.
If Relapses Happen, Continue On
Everybody wants a perfect run without failures, but it’s even more important that you don’t let failures define you. If relapses happen, continue with your goal and keep believing in your cause—the road to being addiction-free is full of obstacles.
Just because you relapse into your old habits, it doesn’t mean your plan is not working. Think of every relapse as a step forward for each one will make you mentally stronger—don’t let the shame dictate your action. Keep your head up and carry on: that’s the best thing you can do in life.
You CAN overcome an addiction. Just don’t quit.
About the Author
Hadden Carpenter is a writer currently living in Vietnam. He loves writing about things that are universally helpful and applicable to humans all around the world. In his free time, he’s an avid gardener and in his day job, he’s a staff writer for Gamblersarea.com.