5 Things to Consider When Trying to Overcome an Addiction

Last time we looked at the cycle of addiction, and why it can sometimes be so hard to break.

If you’re at the point where you really want to overcome the addiction in your life, here are 5 things to consider.

1. Are you fully aware of the problem and its effects?

While many don’t even realise they have an addiction, those who do often play-down how much of a problem it is and don’t recognise the strength of its hold in their life or how much it’s affecting their relationships and/or happiness. When it comes to trying to break that stronghold, the addict first has to admit that it exists and that they need help to move forward. 

2. What is the root problem behind your addiction?

Most people turn to an addiction to numb pain, escape reality, or fulfill a need that isn’t otherwise being met or that wasn’t met when it mattered most (e.g. as a child). To really gain some control over the addiction, the addict needs to go back to the root of the problem and identify how it started. It could be that there was a serious lack of love in their early life, that they felt or feel controlled and/or manipulated by others, or that they have a problem with self-worth and subconsciously sabotage their bodies, their relationships or other positive things in their life as self-punishment. By being able to identify the root problem, the addict can start to think how they can deal with it in another way that isn’t harmful to themselves or others.

3. Who can you be accountable to?

Addictions can cause a lot of debilitating emotions, including shame, resentment, self-hate, condemnation and frustration. Because of this, it is often difficult for an addict to talk to someone else about the problem: the fear of further judgment and condemnation is often too much. However, not talking about it with someone stops the person with the addiction from being accountable for their actions. They are also more likely to feel isolated, unsupported, and as if they are the only one with an addiction like theirs. Finding someone safe to talk to (i.e. someone who will respect confidentiality and not be condemning) is imperative if some power over the problem is to be gained. This could be a family member, a good friend, a support group or a professional counsellor.

4. What can you do to distract yourself?

As discussed last week, the addiction cycle starts with thoughts. To stop that process, those with addictions need to purposefully fill their minds with other, more positive and helpful things. For example, someone with an addiction might start a new project, make an effort to increase their social life, pursue a hobby, call a friend or even just go for a walk to change their focus. By keeping busy in a balanced way, the addict has less time to worry about getting their next ‘fix’, and is likely to meet their need in a way that is healthier and more rewarding.

5. How can you celebrate your progress?

Many people with addictions keep slipping back into the addictive cycle because they are so focused on what they’re not doing right and/or on what they think they should be doing that they feel like failures. By changing that perspective to focus on what they have achieved, what they are doing better and how they are moving forward, the addict is more likely to feel inspired to keep going. This may mean getting encouragement from others and maintaining positive self-talk, but it also means setting small goals and making sure even little achievements are celebrated.

By keeping these five points in mind and seeking appropriate help, even the toughest of addictions can be conquered. No matter how long an addiction has had power in your life, it is never too late to start making changes, to regain control, and to rebuild your life without a negative stronghold. 

As always, please feel free to leave any comments you may have about an addiction in your life and how you overcome it.