Quick Summary of Overcoming Addiction (11 Helpful Tips):
- Keep Your Friends and Family Close
- Let Books Work Their Magic
- Pick Someone You’ll Be Accountable To
- Anticipate Your Temptation Zones
- Plan Your Distractions
- Get Your Sweat On
- Do A Project
- Keep Records
- Help Others
- Give Meaning To An Object And Keep It Close
Overcoming addiction is easier said than done. Anyone with experience will tell you. Depending on the circumstance, it can be harder for some than for others. Sometimes beating an addiction seems impossible. But our experience has shown that there is no such thing as the point of no return. No matter how serious the addiction, you can beat it. With the right tools and the right people, addiction can be managed properly.
Addiction comes in all shapes and sizes, but there are some universal rules that we’ve found apply to any situation. Regardless of what you’re addicted to or how long you’ve been addicted to it, these tools work. Inside or outside a treatment center, there is simply no way that following the suggestions here won’t help. In our facility, we incorporate all of these into our programs because they work so well. Here are 11 tips to help in overcoming addiction and staying strong in your recovery.
1. Keep Your Friends And Family Close
People who are addicted tend to isolate themselves. This is because feelings of guilt and shame always come along with addiction. You don’t want those you love to think less of you, so you avoid them. You detach emotionally from them. Not because you don’t love them, but because you do. It seems counterintuitive, but that’s what happens. When you’re addicted, you usually push those you care about the most slowly away.
When you truly make the choice to overcome your addiction, friends and loved ones make it so much easier. Though sometimes it will be hard repairing damage inflicted on your relationships by addiction, you need them. Having a buddy system doesn’t just keep you accountable it provides you with the thing you need more than anything else through this process. Love. Let the ones who love you stay near you. Try your best to not push them away but rather pull them even closer and don’t be afraid to ask for their help or forgiveness. Your chances of success increase so much with others helping you.
2. Let Books Work Their Magic
Sure, self-help books always help. But we’re not just talking about, “Here’s a book that will help you understand your addiction.” We’re talking about books in general. Read anything! This is easier from some than for others. Some people inherently love reading. For others, it’s more like a chore. But in our experience, reading of any kind does wonders for the addict’s mind. Even reading fiction keeps the mind sharp, occupied, and entertained. Whatever kind of books you like to read, it doesn’t matter. Pick the habit back up if you’ve gotten out of it. Reading has such a wonderfully positive effect on the mind. Many people who’ve gone through our program have said that reading helped them so much.
3. Pick Someone You’ll Be Accountable To
This one is linked, in a way, to Strategy #1. You cannot do this alone. Overcoming addiction is almost impossible unless you involve someone else in your journey to recovery. When it comes to success in general, accountability is a rule of thumb. Sure, there is value in being accountable to yourself. In fact, that’s also necessary for success. However, in order to make real progress with addiction you need to have someone you report to. Someone who knows what your goals are and understands the detriment of not achieving them. Someone you’ve allowed into your world, into your circle. This person will be your cheerleader, your coach, and your confidant. In the world of addiction recovery, these people are sometimes called sponsors.
And you’re certainly not limited to only one. We’ve found that anywhere from 2-5 people can still be just as effective, sometimes more, depending on the situation. During your recovery process, you might have many people that you see regularly. People like doctors, therapists, religious leaders, etc. Depending on your relationship with these people, make some of them your sponsors or just accountability partners. Keeping yourself accountable this way will help you move forward by leaps and bounds.
4. Anticipate Your Temptation Zones
Temptation zones, weak spots, trigger warnings – whatever you call your danger zones, be honest with yourself about them. These are the times and places that spark your addiction. For each person, it’s different. Perhaps a smoker associates lighting up with getting coffee. If this is you, you need to anticipate these times by preparing yourself beforehand. Prepare mentally and physically so that when these danger zones happen, your armor is already up.
How do you do this? There’s no one right way, but there are tried and true methods. One is writing your temptation zones down in a journal along with what you’re going to do instead. Like instead of smoking while getting coffee, you might decide that you’re going to eat grapefruit. This could work because you like grapefruit and it tastes gross while smoking. This is just one example. Your approach could literally be anything. The key is to be 100% familiar with when your addiction flares up and be ready for it.
5. Plan Your Distractions
Along with anticipating your temptation zones, you need to also have replacement activities prepared. You use these activities to take the place of when you normally give in to your addition. When you find yourself in your danger zone, sing a particular song out loud. That works for a lot of people. Call your sponsor and/or accountability partner. Start reading. Get in the car and drive. Anything! Just have a plan for what you’re going to do instead and stick to it.
Here are some other examples we’ve heard of that work well. Turning on a particular song or CD. Gardening. Crafts. House cleaning. Sports. Watching a specific TV show or movie. Card games. Walking the dog. Checking your email. Sudoku. Crossword puzzles. These premeditated distractions work best when you have them all planned out. For example, have the craft table all set up and ready to go. That way, when you need to immediately engage with it as part of your plan, no set up is required. Have the gardening tools ready to go in a bucket by the door. Just make sure you can jump right into your distraction activity without hardly any effort.
6. Get Your Sweat On
Exercise does so much good for the body in general. And this is certainly the case when it comes to overcoming addiction. And we’re not just talking about getting strong and losing weight. We’re talking about using exercise as a helpful addiction recovery tool. Here’s why it works. Addictive behavior is usually associated with some degree of guilt, shame, and depression. When we feel these emotions, we use our addictive behavior as an escape or release. But there are few things that cure depression as effectively as working out. Accomplishing a good workout actually releases the “feel good” chemicals in your brain like serotonin and gives you a release from depression and anxiety. It also decreases the chance of you resorting to your addictive behavior immediately after. This is partly because your body and mind are already experiencing a type of “high”, but one that is natural and leaves you feeling better about yourself.
There’s something healing about exercising that puts your mind right. It makes saying no to your addiction a little easier and increases rational thought.
7. Do A Project
The reason this works is similar to other strategies on our list. It helps remind your brain that it can feel fulfilled and engaged in things other than your addiction. Our thoughts of our addiction become obsessive, so when we focus our thoughts on something constructive it severs those obsessive thoughts and decreases the chance of cravings and/or relapse. You’ve likely been choosing your addictive behavior as a go-to for so long that you’ve forgotten the joy of pretty much everything else. And what’s great about starting a project is that the sky’s the limit! What are you interested in? Start a project based on that. Or do a project that’s new to you. Either way, it will help in your recovery journey so much!
Here are some ideas to get you thinking about starting a project. Sign up for a class at a local university or community center. Start creating a photo album. Audition for a community theater show. Volunteer on a committee. Coach a kid’s sports team. Knit or crochet. Whatever you decide to do, it’s going to help you meet new people and do something fun and rewarding!
8. Keep Records
There are few things that provide more catharsis than putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards). If you are struggling with addiction of any kind and you haven’t given this an honest try, do it. You’ll be surprised at how good it feels to get thoughts and emotions down on paper. It helps you make sense of things. And you don’t have to write, “Dear Journal” or anything like that. Just write freely. Whatever comes to your mind. This is a great place to start. Perhaps as you get used to this exercise, your thoughts will become more coherent and organized. But it doesn’t have to be that way in the beginning.
We purposefully did not title this section Keep A Journal. That’s because we’re not talking about literal journal writing. By keeping a record, we mean to put down in a journal-type book what you did that day. What you achieved. What your thoughts are on accomplishing or not accomplishing your goals that day. This is also great because you can go back and read how you felt before all your progress. You can see how far you’ve come by reading the records you kept weeks and months ago. Writing things down also helps you to remember them later. When you have a breakthrough idea or sudden understanding, write it down. That you won’t forget.
9. Help Others
It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like an expert. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel worthy to teach another person something. But you need to help others as others help you. If you have a breakthrough moment, share it with someone going through a similar trial. For some people, the help they need doesn’t come from a counselor or a doctor. It sometimes comes from their peers. People who are going through addiction just like them.
Another wonderful thing about helping others comes from the very of nature of service. When we serve others, there are few feelings like it in this world. We feel wonderful afterward. Purposeful. Needed. When we help someone else in need, no matter the circumstance, it gives us meaning. Even if just in that moment. And one moment can change lives. Even yours.
10. Give Meaning To An Object And Keep It Close
In our experience being involved with overcoming addiction, this is an unlikely strategy. But it works. It really does! The object can be anything. It just needs to have meaning or become meaningful for the purpose of mental or spiritual security. Keep the item in your bedroom, in your wallet, in your pocket, whatever you decide. But it needs to be there to help you. When you look at it or touch it, it reminds you hope. It reminds you of the life you will have after overcoming addiction.
And though your item can be religious (a cross or medallion), it doesn’t have to be. It could be a book, a blanket, a piece of fabric, a souvenir of some sort, a family heirloom, a photo. Anything! Designate something if you haven’t already. You feel find great comfort and inner-strength from an item like this.
Praying doesn’t need to be eloquent or long to be effective. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be directed at a particular god,. We’ve found that the positive effect associated with praying shows up regardless of religion or deity. There’s something about getting on your knees and speaking honestly to whoever’s up there. In order for overcoming addiction to work, you need to be humble. And humility is the very essence of prayer. In your prayers, describe what you’re going through. Speak your thoughts. In a way, prayer can be like a verbal version of keeping records. It can have a similar effect. But we’ve found that for most addicts, it has a farther-reaching impact than that.