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How To Overcome Any Addictive, Compulsive Habit Or Behavior

Updated on July 28, 2014

You Can Overcome Any Addictive Behavior

You can overcome any addictive or compulsive behavior with the right motivation, determination and a clear understanding of the problem.

Let’s take compulsive drinking of alcohol as an example.

The first thing you have to do is get a realistic view of your drinking.
hat triggers it?

What are you thinking or doing when you feel the urge to drink?

What’s going through your mind?

What are you feeling?

What happened in your your life that triggers the urge to drink and drink excessively?

Once you have a clear picture of the experiences or situations that are triggering your urge to drink and to drink excessively. You can start to create strategies to deal with it.

You have to motivate yourself to alter the things you do that support your excessive drinking, thoughts and feelings. But being motivated is not always enough. You also have to be smart in your approach to altering your excessive drinking. You have to realize that when you try to alter you excessive drinking it will put up a fight. It will try to maintain itself. It has a life of its own. It's fueled by your emotions and feelings and they give it life, and like anything that’s alive, when you try to kill it. It will fight like hell to protect itself and stay alive.

It’s like the old cartoon where the devil is on one shoulder telling you why you should drink and an angel is on the other shoulder telling why you shouldn't drink.

The devil (your excessive drinking ) will trigger all kinds of alarms and fears in you to get you to keep drinking. It’ll say "Watch out! Are you sure you want to do this? It’s kind of scary! That not you (the none excessive drinking you) this is you (the excessive drinking you ). You don’t want to do that! It's too hard it's easier and more fun doing what you're doing".

Let’s say you been drinking to excess for five years.. When you decide to stop drinking, your desire to do so, will only be one day old, one hour old, a minute old. Your desire to drink and to drink excessively, has five years of experience on your desire to stop drinking. It’s like the difference between a baby and a five year old. Your five year old desire to drink will be much stronger than your new desire to stop drinking. So you will have to be aware of that and keep it in mind when you find yourself struggling between the desire to drink and the desire to stop drinking.

Your excessive drinking keeps itself going. It automatic. It has momentum. It like a heavy tire rolling down a hill and you’re trying to catch it and stop it. Your new desire to stop drinking doesn’t have all of those years of momentum. It's not automatic. It takes extra energy and effort to get it going and to maintain it. So which one do you think will be the easiest for you do?

That’s right! Keep drinking!

So if you don't really keep a close watch on this aspect of your drinking. Your chances of altering or stopping your excessive drinking will be pretty much doom to fail. I’m just trying to give you the big picture, and why it may be hard to change your excessive drinking, because, if you don’t have a realistic picture of how your excessive drinking is maintaining its self, can you really change it?

Sometimes fear or excitement can help you initially change a habit or compulsive behavior. Fear can be overriding and intense enough to scare you into changing your excessive drinking.Getting excited about some new therapy or program can have the same effect.

The excitement or fear temporarily takes the place of your compulsive desire to drink, drug or whatever you tend to do. But once that initial fear and excitement starts to dissipate. You'll slowly but surely, find yourself, sometimes before you know it, back to doing the same old thing you were doing before you became excited or afraid.

There is also the issue of stigma. You may not want to think of yourself as an alcoholic . You may say with some sense of pride "I don’t drink everyday like some people. I only drink on the weekends".

But here’s the issue. If you're drinking every day excessively and it’s negatively affecting your life: you've lost your job, your marriage, got DUIs, etc., but you keep drinking to excess and you can’t stop or don’t want to stop, whether you doing this everyday or just on the weekends, you’re an alcoholic.

What Determines If You're An Alcoholic?

It's the drinking excessively and getting in trouble, losing your job etc that's the determines whether you an alcoholic or not. So is there really an essential difference between the person who binge drinks every day or the one who only binge drinks on the weekends, if they both, lead to the same negative results?

I think not

You have to be willing to stop making those kinds of comparisons and focus on how your drinking to excess is negatively affecting your life and if you're really willing to do something to stop it.

What can you do?

Once you've decided that you're going to make a real effort to stop drinking. You need to start observing yourself non-judgmentally when you get the urge to drink. What are you thinking or feeling or both, at that time? Just observe yourself, don't try to stop yourself from drinking. Just pay close attention to everything you're doing, feeling and thinking as you go through the things you habitually do, when you get the urge to drink and drink excessively. This is what you want to become aware,of, because if you aren't really aware of what you're doing, thinking or feeling when you drink habitually and excessively, can you really effectively change it? Habits allow us to do things without having to think about them. They're memorized. You drive to some place you been many times, and get there without having to pay attention to every little detail of how to got there. It's the same with your excessive drinking or any excessive, compulsive behavior.

You done it so many times that its become "second nature". It's memorized and you can drink to excess without really being fully aware of doing it. It's habitual and controlled by unconscious memory. When you feel or think certain things or have certain experiences. The urge to drink is triggered automatically by the unconscious memory of all the past times you've drank in similar situations. And you drink because it actually works for whatever you're using it for, at least in the short term...then you have to do again and again and again every time a similar situation happens to you again.

So that's why the first thing you need to do is to just watch and observe yourself as you go through your habitual routine of drinking to excess. But don't judge or criticize yourself, because that will just make you feel bad and make you want to drink more to feel better or to mask your emotional pain.

This is just a fact finding mission. You're getting Intel on what triggers your drinking and your drinking excessively so you can effectively do something about it.

Once you've gotten a real clear picture of what's going on with you emotionally and mentally that triggers your excessive drinking. You can start to address how you can get the problem under control or stop it completely.

You can go "cold turkey" (stop all at once), or break it down into small steps that may make it easier for you do.

Your excessive drinking medicates your feelings and distracts you from what you're feeling or thinking at that time. Your survival instinct is trying to protect you from any negative or distressful thoughts or emotions you may be experiencing. You have to be willing to take an unbiased look at what feelings or thoughts your drinking is medicating and distracting you from. Then create a mental picture of how your life is falling apart or has fallen apart, as a negative motivator of how you don't want to be anymore. Or as a positive motivator, create a mental picture of how your life will improve when you stop drinking or a combination of both.

Do whatever it takes to help you succeed and conquer the problem.. Do these things and you can change your life and yourself for the much, much better.

These are just suggestions. Use them in your own way to fit you. Do whatever it takes to make it easier for you to stop drinking and begin to dismantle your compulsive habit of excessive drinking until it exists no more.

This will work for any compulsive habit or behavior, whether it's mental, emotional, physical, sexual, gambling, difficulty losing weight, all of them and more.

Ok! Got it got it good?

Alright! Lets Go!

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    • vveasey profile image

      The Medicine Man 4 years ago from Detroit,MI



    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very useful hub on an important concern. I hope concerned people read this. I agree, support of family and constant motivation will help a lot to overcome addictions of any kind.

      Voted up and thanks!

    • vveasey profile image

      The Medicine Man 4 years ago from Detroit,MI


      You're right!

      and one has to be motivated, determined and smart about it

    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      i too believe that there is help and support for anyone suffering from an addiction. they will have to except the fact that they will be in it for the long haul because there are no quick fixes.