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How to Overcome Addiction

Updated on May 7, 2011

Overcoming addiction is not something you simply decide to do one day. It takes courage, conviction and understanding. Addictions come in unlimited forms. Its not simply drugs and alcohol, although that’s what we equate addiction to the most. We tend to label habits as addictions based on the extent at which it permeates our lives. The perception that we can’t control it is somewhat misleading, since more often than not we try and succeed, just very poorly. The problem is staying stopped once its stopped.

Recognizing a set of behaviors over time can lead us to discover that in fact, we almost all have some addictive traits. While some addictions can be healthy, like exercise, others can simply ruin our lives. The goal is to identify the ones that need addressed and then to do something about it. Permanently.

Understanding why we do the things we do is not the easiest task. It’s seemingly effortless to see in others what they do but when the tables are turned and we look at ourselves, we’re often blind. It takes tremendous courage to accept that you have an addiction. It’s humbling, embarrassing, confusing and frightening. But you aren’t alone. Just do a quick Google search, and no matter how silly you think it may seem, no doubt you’ll find that someone somewhere on this planet has probably struggled with something similar.

As humans, the reasons we struggle with addictions surprisingly don’t vary that dramatically. The differences between a drug addict, an alcoholic, a sex addict or someone who obsessively works out, all share common threads. Its these threads that motivate the same behavior over and over again. So dealing with one addiction, is somewhat similar to dealing with all addictions.

Accepting the behavior as a problem is the first step. Until you recognize the behavior as a problem, no power on earth can help you. You may want to stop because it seems stupid to continue, like smoking, but the fix is only short term. Eventually, you tend to fall right back to where you started. Failure isn’t a matter of not wanting it, its in your conviction in accepting that the behavior needs to stop.

Once you’ve realized you have a problem, you need to invoke action. Simply stopping something doesn’t stop the addiction or quell the underlying reasons for why you do what you do. And the reasons why do not just come overnight. It takes time, which is why an active program of self discovery is the only way to kick the habit. Essentially, what you’re doing is substituting one addiction for another, and that addiction is living. Staying in an addictive cycle is parallel to prison, except the bars are not tangible. To remove the bars, you must work at it.

Whether the action be joining a group, going to therapy, prayer, reading, meditation, or simply acknowledging every day that your behavior must change, is irrelevant, the point is, do something.

Often times the first thing we try doesn’t work, we think we’ve found the way to walk only to realize its not for us. The reasons why we can’t seemingly “make it” has nothing to do with us, rather the fact that we think we can do it ourselves. The simple answer is we can’t. Trying to do it alone is like sailing the sea’s without a map. You may reach a destination, but not the one you set out to find. So take the pressure off yourself. Turn to your higher power, God, whoever, whatever you feel comfortable with, but it can’t be yourself. Putting your faith in yourself that you alone can solve and control it clearly is what got you into the mess to begin with. What you have proven you know how to do, is what doesn’t work.

Its with this truth, that we must learn to look outside ourselves and come to understand the things we can’t explain. Its not the search for explanation, rather belief that what we can’t explain is there by a force or truth greater than ourselves. Its in that force where we can release the madness that drives our addictive cycles. As they say, let go and let God. Why not make it easier on yourself? Don’t believe you have a greater power, no problem? Make a healthy life, one without your addiction your greater power. Do things that aknowlege that power, fuel your body with healthy food, fill your mind with positive thoughts, grow your soul by expanding your reach. Whatever you choose it to be, actively seek it and in return, set yourself free.

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