Addiction is a terrible thing. It’s a loss of freedom, and we all value our freedom. Addiction means we can’t make rational decisions about certain things. So obviously we all want to be free of that tyranny.
Of course there are many different forms of this, from drug addiction and alcohol addiction to gambling, eating, even sex.
If you want to deal with this yourself, without enrolling in a formal program, because you think you can do it with your own methods, then I applaud you and wish you success.
I’m a bit of an expert on this because I was an alcoholic and a drug addict (methamphetamine mainly). It got me into trouble, damaged my health, ruined relationships, landed me in prison and could have been the death of me if I hadn’t got professional help.
And yet here I am, nine years clean and sober, a successful businessman with a stable, happy life. So it can be done. And although I went the full rehab route, both alcohol rehab and drug addiction rehab, that was because I was a dire case. But since I got over the worst, I have had to help myself, and that’s what I want to set out here. Five things you can do to help yourself.
The first step towards breaking any addiction is accepting that that is what it is. You have to stop making excuses, painting a flattering picture of what is actually an ugly situation. You have to get real and try to see yourself as others see you. If you’re addicted to something, why are you addicted?
It’s a complicated subject. But if you’re facing up to it and if you are at the stage when you believe you can crack this yourself, more power to you. You need to learn more about health in general, because as with any subject, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
Having done your homework, here are my suggestions of five things to work on.
- Find a reason to do it
You’re probably halfway there already with this, or you wouldn’t be looking for ideas. Addictions give pleasure as well as pain, which is what makes them so powerful. So you need to find a reason that makes the difficulty of giving it up really worth it.
Is it for your health’s sake? For the sake of your relationships? For the sake of your life’s stability and your chances of material success? Whatever it is, make that the most important thing, the one thing that must be protected. Be determined not to lose your health, your partner, your kids, your business, your future. All of these things are far more important than giving in to your personal demons, and you can use your reason as a weapon, a shield, a source of strength.
- Get more exercise
That’s for most of us, anyway. If you are already superfit, this may not apply to you. But the vast majority of us don’t get enough exercise, Here again you need to give yourself a reason. And that reason is that exercise stimulates the pleasure and reward systems in the body, making you feel happier within yourself and about yourself. We’re always hearing about the importance of loving ourselves, and this is part of that. If you do something that makes you feel good and is not harming you in the long run, it would be silly not to do it.
Me? I play basketball. I do push-ups. I run. All of these things make me feel good and I have the added bonus of knowing I look better too. Nobody really wants to look like a slob.
If you are absolutely not the physical exercise type – and some people just aren’t – this could be a good one for you. There is a physical side to the yoga which doesn’t involve pounding the streets and the sports fields, while meditation clears the mind, promotes positive thoughts and can lead to healthy living, both physically and emotionally. So join a class and give it a whirl. And if the leader doesn’t inspire you, move on to a different one until you find what works for you.
The old adage, you are what you eat, is based on fact. What you eat and drink manifests itself in your physical appearance and your energy levels. If you eat burgers and drink milkshakes all the time, you’re going to look like somebody who eats burgers and drinks shakes. Overweight, sluggish, possibly with bad skin. When you’re trying to give up an addiction, the way you look and feel can make a big difference. Try to give yourself a body to be proud of, a body to live up to.
You’re not going to indulge in your destructive behavior if it doesn’t occur to you. But the devil will find work for idle hands to do. So keep yourself occupied, be it with exercise, reading or a hobby of some sort. Anything to prevent you sitting there, allowing your addiction to tempt you.
So there you are, five simple things to help break the destructive cycle you’ve been in. Love yourself, be good to yourself and keep busy. And if you’ve found a great way to do this, by all means tell us about it.