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How can I overcome an addiction?

Jan Campbell
Nursing
I do know how hard it is to give up or walk away from an addiction. The suggestion I have for those addicted is to go inside and find your inner strength. Your first strength is in admitting you have an addiction. If you can do this, you have taken your first step towards your recovery. Grow from here. You have given your power away, and it is now time to get it back because your life is your choice. By giving in to your addiction, you are, in a sense, surrendering your power to the addictive agent and allowing it to take control of your life. It is now time to claim your power back.

Surround yourself with supportive people, be it your friends or family, and seek out an agency that helps promote recovery from addictions. There are many agencies to help assist you with this. Take steps toward finding your power and freedom again. I do understand that this may not be an easy process but you must love yourself through it. It could be a matter of choosing life over death. Even if you remain alive and are still breathing, if you continue to give your power over to your addiction, your disconnection to your emotional and spiritual being may make you feel as if you were dead. You must dig deep, gain control and ask for help. Remember, as you surrender and seek love and light in your life and extend your hand out seeking help, a warm, supportive hand will surely grab you and begin pulling you forward. It is OK to ask for help as you seek your road towards recovery. Pay attention and look for that helping hand. Your true spirit is always there, wanting to reconnect and take you to your place of peace. Trust and believe this.

Once you get your power back, you will be able to walk away from the addicting agent. You will begin to bring balance, peace, and happiness back into your life. You will feel alive again and regain your dignity. You will be found. When you take your life back, you take your power back, and you can begin to live your life the way you intended it. Freedom will be yours again. This is where you can begin to create your dreams into a reality as your life now moves into balance. You can do this. Believe in yourself and grab the hand of those extending their hands to you.
Dr. Mike Dow, PsyD
Addiction Medicine

You can overcome an addiction by first admitting you have a problem and seeking treatment. "Overcoming" an addiction is different from "curing" an addiction. If you had diabetes and went to a diabetes clinic, you would be "treated" for diabetes. By the same token, addicts are "treated" for a disease called addiction.

What makes overcoming and treating an addiction so difficult is that, unlike physical illness such as diabetes, we must treat the whole person in order for treatment to be effective. Instead of just treating a physical disease, we are treating a disease that has bio-psycho-social-spiritual implications. Addiction has biological and genetic factors at play, but, like most diseases, there is an interaction between genes and your environment. This means that instead of just taking a pill, psychological treatment will be just as essential. This may include individual cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy, group therapy, and attending 12-step program meetings. Depending on the nature and severity of your addiction, inpatient rehab, intensive outpatient-based treatment, or individual outpatient treatment may be part of your treatment plan. Addiction often devastates relationships and families, so this must be considered in family therapy, interventions, and monitoring. The spiritual part of treatment may or may not be religious; 12-step programs talk about a "higher power."  You, your therapist, and 12-step sponsor will come to decide what this means to you. One of the advantages of 12-step programs is that spiritual growth - whatever that means to you - is one of the benefits of successful treatment.

Since relapse is common, treating an addiction can be lifelong. For some addicts, this may mean going to a 12-step meetings daily or weekly in combination with individual therapy. Having support, cognitive tools, affect regulation skills, and spiritual friendship will help addicts when a life stressor presents itself. One of the most effective and newest tools we use to treat addiction is monitoring. The addict agrees to random monitoring along with contracting with the family through a monitoring service. This greatly helps the family of the addict, because they no longer feel they have to police the addict. More importantly, this helps addicts to be accountable and has been shown to increase 5-year sobriety rates to over 90% in some populations.

Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Addiction Medicine
Overcoming addiction can be a long, slow, painful, and often complicated process. But contrary to popular belief, you don't necessarily need to go to a rehabilitation center or receive formal treatment to overcome addiction. Many people recover from addiction on their own. Others do it with the help of peers, psychotherapy, medications, outpatient or inpatient treatment centers, self-help groups, or a combination of these elements.
  • First, find meaning in your life by replacing your addiction with alternative interests that engage and challenge you. Often that means reconnecting with something—a hobby, a career, a relationship—that was meaningful before your addiction emerged. Sometimes it means discovering a new interest that can take the place of your relationship with the addiction.
  • Second, start exercising, even if it's something as simple as walking. Exercise is a natural antidepressant: it relieves stress and helps you think more clearly. Exercise also prompts the body to release its own psychoactive substances—endorphins—that trigger the brain's reward pathway and promote a feeling of well-being.
Exercising sometimes ties in with finding or renewing meaning. For example, walking, running, or other outdoor activities can get you in touch with nature, which has a calming effect on many people. Or the exercise might involve joining a team or taking a class, which requires discipline and persistence, and often provides a healthy social context. Regular exercise can help you adopt a routine that leads to positive change, providing an opportunity to learn ways to influence your life favorably.

Both of these essential recovery steps lead to a common and important outcome: you become reinvested in other people and your community. To recover from addiction, you need to re-enter the social fold, where there is a support system that discourages use of the object of addiction.

The nice thing about the two essential elements of recovery is that they are within the grasp of anyone who decides to overcome addiction, whether or not he or she seeks formal treatment. Although peer groups and clinicians can facilitate the recovery process, these people are not essential to recovery
Sheila Dunnells
Addiction Medicine
How can you overcome an addiction? With help. Rarely can someone do it alone. So the question becomes what type of help suits you? Starting with detox, you can choose to go to a rehab, do outpatient, go to personal counseling or utilize the Twelve Step programs or those programs that do no use the 12 Steps but follow their own program. In addition, there are now in-home programs where the therapist comes to your home so you do not have to take time from work. And, there are several online support counselors who will visit in real-time via the internet/phone/email. And, you can avail yourself of group therapy and investigate the various therapy approaches.
The important point is to take that first step. Do something. Best of luck.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.