Addiction is a complicated beast. It comes in many forms, it creeps up on you without you ever truly understanding what’s happening and it can take over your life. It’s an illness, one that is self-administered and one that is no one’s fault but your own, but an illnesses nonetheless. Like most illnesses, it can harm your mental and physical wellbeing, but it can be cured and there are also things you can do to prevent it.
How to Stop an Addiction Step 1: Understanding How it Happens
It is a question that should have an easy answer, but the truth is a little more complicated than that. Someone who hasn’t been addicted for a great length of time will tell you that it’s easy, you just need a little willpower. But it goes much deeper than that.
Being addicted is rarely just about taking an excessive amount of drugs or doing a lot of a certain activity. That can certainly lead to addiction, but if the addicts are young enough and don’t have any particular reason why they got addicted in the first place, then the addiction rarely lasts. In fact, these are often the ones who seem to be able to freely use drugs and alcohol throughout their life, developing addictions, kicking them, and still somehow using recreationally.
The problem with addiction begins when there are other issues present. If you see drugs as a social experience, maybe a little MDMA or cocaine to help you enjoy yourself at the club or some marijuana when you’re gaming with friends, you might not have major issues with addiction. But when you start using them to escape life, to leave the house because you don’t feel confident without them or even to lift your mood when you’re feeling like you’ve hit rock-bottom, then the problems start.
Drugs are always more of a concern in those who have prior mental health issues and those who don’t have their lives grounded. Think about it this way, how many people do you know who had drug issues when they were kids but have now gotten their lives together? Now compare that to how many people you know who have had drug problems as adults. The former group can go on to do great things and be perfectly normal, whereas the latter group always seems to be weighed down by their addiction, and this is the major issue at play here.
Addiction is an Escape into a Black Hole
Drugs are a great way of escaping from your life, but that escape path eventually leads to a dead-end. At first it can feel like breaking out of prison and embracing the open air, the freedom and the lack of restraints that have held you back. But eventually those fields narrow, you realize that you have to fight for that freedom and, inevitably, you end up in situation that is worse than the one you escaped from.
Drugs are a great way of escaping from your life, but that escape path eventually leads to a dead-end.
That’s what addiction is and the first step to getting past it is to realize that if you used drugs as escapism, then the route back to sobriety is going to be a lot tougher for you than it is for the causal addict who got there through excessive partying.
How to Stop an Addiction Step 2: Give Yourself a Reason to be Sober
You need to have a reason to be sober, a reason to live. If you’re at rock-bottom right now then it’s going to be hard to get through your addiction because you’ll eventually reach a point where your mind just thinks, “Why does it mater? If you have family, great, if you have a career or prospects, perfect. If not, then get it.
Reconnect with your family. Learn a skill or nourish a talent. Do something that will make you desperate to get sober, something that will help you through the darkest days, of which there will be many.
How to Stop an Addiction Step 3: Get Your Head and Your Life Straight
The reason so many addicts go through a cycle of addiction and relapse is because they realize that their life is nothing without drugs. If you live on the streets, your health is not great, you don’t have any loved ones and you have no career prospects, then sobriety is just going to be a stark realization that you have very little to live for.
It’s harsh, but it’s true. In this position, anyone would go back to drugs, because at least those drugs put a smile on their face, kept them warm inside and helped them to escape the depressing madness that was their life. Similarly, if you have relative comfort in your life but you are battling with depression and a lack of motivation, then sobriety is going to be a wake-up call you don’t want.
Doors start to open when you are sober, especially if your life has been shrouded in a veil of addiction for so long. This is true for everyone we have spoken to who has been addicted for years and then got sober. But you still need to lay the foundations while you are in recovery and even before that.
A key step for addicts that hate their addiction is to try and sort their life out when they are addicted so that sobriety will be a relief and not a nightmare. Get yourself a job, spend more money on food and on your savings than on drugs. Bring some sense and some clarity to your life so that you’ll be desperate to break through into sobriety and you’ll be ready for it when it happens.
How to Stop an Addiction Step 4: Tackle the Addiction
If you don’t have any issues in your life or your head, then this is basically the first and only step. If, like many addicts, you’re at rock bottom and struggling to claw your way out, then this is the final step, but it’s also the easiest.
Tackling addiction is not that hard when you have the willpower to give up, and that willpower comes from everything we mentioned above. We often say that if you don’t believe you can make it through withdrawal without substituting with other drugs or being in a rehab clinic, then you’re not ready for withdrawal and will likely relapse as soon as you make it through.
The people who have given up drugs and never turned back are the ones who were sick to the back teeth of the drug and the lifestyle. They grew to hate the substance they used to love and they couldn’t get through withdrawal quickly enough. We’re not saying that you should take more drugs until you get to this point, but that you need to adopt this mindset. If you’re not quite there, then think about what the drug is doing to you, what you would be without it and what you have lost because of it.
You need to really hate it and to hate yourself for taking it, only then will you be happy to embrace all the horrible side effects that come with withdrawal. You won’t care about lessening the blow, you won’t care about going through a few days or weeks of hell. You’ll be happy for it. And not only will you have a better chance of getting through withdrawal this way, but by suffering through it you’ll also have a lesser chance of relapsing in the future.
Think about it, if you breeze through withdrawals and realize that years of addiction brought you nothing more than a few days of being mildly unwell, then you’ll take it again and again. If you grow to despise it and then it takes you through weeks of hell, you’ll never look at it again, let alone take it.