We’ll not talk too much about the bad effects of addiction. Everyone knows that they ruin your relationships, damage your health, and, if left uncontrolled, they can also turn out to be life-threatening. Yet, people indulge in addictive behaviors and risk their whole lives.
Fortunately, there’s a way out. Addiction is like any other mental disorder which can be cured with proper care and medical attention. In this article, you’ll learn a step by step blueprint to get rid of addiction.
So, are you ready to know how to overcome addiction? Let’s jump in.
Make the decision to change
First things first, you would need to make the decision to change. It might seem impossible to quit your addiction, but it’s the first step if you want the change to happen. Once you’ve made the decision, have a goal in mind. The goal doesn’t need to be to quit entirely but reduce the amount over time. In fact, experts suggest that the right way to overcome addiction is to decrease consumption gradually instead of stopping it all of a sudden.
Let’s say drink ten glasses of whiskey every day, and you’re drunk the whole day. Your first step towards overcoming addiction could be to limit your consumption to two or three drinks per day only at night. Then slowly, you can reduce to drinking only on the weekends, and then eventually reducing it to occasional drinking. If you’re addicted to life-threatening drugs like morphine, your aim should be to stop once for all. But if it’s alcohol or tobacco, you can reduce the intake to amounts that are no longer dangerous.
Prepare to change
Once you’re clear about addiction and mental health goals, you’ll need to prepare for the change. First, remove all addictive substances from your home, as well as triggers that may encourage you to consume those substances.
If you’re addicted to alcohol, you’ll need to dispose of your bottles and whiskey glasses. If partying with your friends encourages you to drink, don’t attend any parties for a while. Also, talk to a few friends and family and ask them for their support. Tell them that you’re trying to overcome addiction, and you’ll be really grateful if they can help you eliminate the bad effects of addiction.
For alcohol and drug addictions, it’s better to talk to your doctor as well. Depending on your situation and history, they may recommend you some medications to manage withdrawal symptoms. If you have any underlying health problem, be sure to see your doctor before you make any significant changes in your lifestyle.
Quitting can be tough, and it can have a different experience for everyone. You may find the process to be liberating and empowering. Some may find it frustrating, painful, and difficult. How you feel also depends on how you’re quitting.
If you’re trying it on your own by stopping the intake, things might get a bit hard. You may suffer mental/mood changes, so be sure to have someone by your side during the process. If you’re taking treatment, things will be easier as you’ll be around other people suffering from the same problems. Besides, these treatments include games and activities to keep you occupied.
One such activity is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which is known to be very effective in helping people overcome addiction. Another popular approach is mindfulness-based techniques. They work great for people with underlying mental health problems, like depression and anxiety.
Cope with withdrawal symptoms
One of the bad effects of addiction and quitting it is withdrawal symptoms. With substance abuse disorders, the physiological aspects of withdrawal can be really disturbing. You might experience sickness or a bad flue, and some withdrawal symptoms can even be life-threatening. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to talk to a doctor when you plan to quit.
The good news is that most of the acute withdrawal symptoms pass within a week or two of quitting. But in some people, withdrawal symptoms may persist for months or even years. Besides, addictions can also lead to mental health problems, like anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, etc. If you’re noticing any unusual behavior after quitting, talk with your doctor.
Hundreds of thousands if not millions of people try to quit addiction every year. But most of them fail, not because they can’t quit, but because they can’t control themselves from restarting their addiction.
Cravings are one of the most common reasons that cause a relapse. Cravings are strong urges to engage in addictive behavior. They are common during withdrawal, but they can creep up all of a sudden once you’ve quit completely. Although cravings can be intense, you can learn to cope with them without giving up and getting engaged in addictive behavior once again.
And if you relapse, don’t see it as a failure. The first thing you should do when you realize you’ve relapsed is to understand what happened. Find the exact reason why you relapsed so that you can avoid it in the future. Once you identify the reason for your relapse, make necessary changes to ensure you don’t get triggered again.
Controlled Behavior after an Addiction
Even if you initially decided to quit completely, you may choose to occasionally indulge in drinking or smoking without doing so excessively. You can do this, and it is completely fine. What’s important is to be clear about what you want. If you want to have a drink or two occasionally with your friends, you should be able to stop after one or two drinks. If you end up drinking too much, you’ll be inviting a relapse.
Many drinkers find it easier to stay completely abstinent than to drink occasionally. If you intend to have a couple of drinks but end up having too much, it’s time to reassess your goals and find out what else can be done right now.
Don’t replace your addiction
If you’re a drug addict, replacing your drug intake with drinking alcohol won’t help. Heavy drinkers often quit drinking just to indulge in smoking or overeating. No matter your addiction, addictive behaviors have similar neurological and psychological processes. They create the same rewarding feelings and sensations, so replacing addictive behavior is not a good option.
The key to avoiding replacement addictions is to find satisfaction in the experiences of normal life. These experiences might not be as intense as addictive behaviors, but enjoying them can help introduce you to a new level of calm.
Another essential aspect of avoiding replacement addictions is to identify and address any underlying mental health problems. Addiction can be a cover for past trauma or underlying feelings of emptiness, fear, sadness, etc. Medications and psychological therapies can go a long way in providing long-term relief with addiction and mental health problems.
Overcoming addiction is not easy; it’s never been easy. You’ll need to stop something you probably love the most at the moment, let alone the withdrawal symptoms and cravings you’ll have to suffer. But the other end is brighter and full of hope. If you manage to quit your addiction, you can potentially turn around your life, and start fresh. So, if you’re addicted to something, quit today.