Strategies for Overcoming Addiction
There are no good addictions. Addictions are never helpful, beneficial, or productive and addictions only leave a trail of damaged health, finances, and relationships behind.
Addictions are common, though. More than 20 million people in the U.S. have a substance use disorder (a term sometimes used instead of addiction) to one or more substances.
Since addictions are devastating and affect many, it is understandable that people desperately seek ways to end their addiction and substance use each day. If only they could return to a life without addiction, their happiness and fulfillment would improve.
Overcoming addiction is an intricate process that requires patience and tremendous amounts of energy. Recovery from substance abuse is possible. Here’s how to achieve your goals:
Recognize the Problem
Only by seeing the full impact of drugs, alcohol, and addiction on your life can you begin the process of recovery. Recognizing the problem is quite complicated because addiction uses tools like denial and misguided anger to ignore the issue or pass the blame on somebody else.
If you are considering the idea that your substance use has become a problem, consult with a trusted friend or family member and ask questions like:
- Do I use drugs and alcohol more often or in greater amounts than I intend?
- Do I spend a lot of time getting, using, and recovering from use?
- Are people worried about my use?
- Have I tried to quit or reduce my substance use without success?
- Do I have strong desires to be using the substance?
- Have I struggled to meet expectations at home, work, or school due to drugs?
- Do I feel uncomfortable or unwell when I am not using the substance?
- Am I spending more time fighting with loved ones or isolating myself?
- Do I need more of the substance to feel the desired effects?
- Do I keep using even though negative events have happened or are likely to happen in the future?
Answering “yes” to any of these questions indicates a problem with your substance use. This realization may shock you, but it is important to accept your situation rather than deny it.
Although substances like drugs and alcohol have been the focus to this point, it is important to note that nonsubstance addictions are possible. Shopping, gambling, and internet or internet gaming are just a few behaviors which could result in addictions.
Note Your Motivators
So you have a problem abusing substances. The next mystery to solve is: Why do you have a problem?
This question is hugely important because if you simply start employing random strategies to improve your condition, you could make no progress or make matters worse.
Several issues lead to substance use, just as several issues can lead to a computer not working properly. Only by accurately identifying the source of the problem can you improve the situation.
There are four general reasons why people begin using substances. They are:
- To feel good. This is the most obvious. People want to use drugs for the feelings of euphoria and happiness they produce.
- To feel better. People who want to feel better do not use substances to get “high.” They use substances to treat their current state. Sometimes called self-medication, this person will use drugs and alcohol to manage symptoms related to a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental or physical health condition.
- To perform better. Using drugs to boost your performance is not only for professional athletes. People will consume substances to improve their academic, social, or physical abilities depending on their situation and stressors.
- To fit in/experiment. People usually do not intend to become addicted when they first use. Instead, the goal of substance abuse is to fit in with their social network or as an experiment to experience the effects of the substance.
Which explanation fits your situation the best? Keep in mind that someone can have multiple motivators for using substances so that it might be some combination of all four.
Next page: The importance of treating underlying conditions with addiction, how to manage triggers, and more.