What steps can help me recover from an addiction?

Seth  Jaffe
Addiction Medicine
All substance abusers are not addicts but all addicts are substance abusers. Addiction is not an intellectual problem, so understanding what addiction is will not help. There is only one way to recover from addiction and that is to live a life of recovery. There is a good saying about addiction (alcoholism): "Once you're a pickle you can never be a cucumber again." I believe this with all my heart, but most people who relapse do not. Recovery is action, plain and simple. In order to recover from addiction we must take positive action. Imagine addiction as a deep hole that took years to dig. This hole cannot be filled quickly or with other addictions such as money, sex, power, etc. There is only one way to fill this hole and that is with recovery, not only from using drugs or alcohol but from the addictive behavior that we use during our addiction. This is a slow process that takes patience and committment. One thing all alcoholics and addicts have in common is an extreme sense of self-centered behavior. This behavior does not stop because we stopped using or drinking. It is only through selfless actions that we start to heal. My personal way out of addiction was when I walked into the rooms of recovery. In those rooms I found men and woman that suffered as I did and truly understood the pain and heartache I caused myself and those I loved. Those people showed me a way out of the slavery of addiction and now I help others find their way out.
Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Addiction Medicine
Research shows that the following five action steps can help you quit addiction and, when taken together, these steps offer the greatest chance of success.

1. Set a quit date. It might be helpful to choose a meaningful date like a special event, birthday, or anniversary.

2. Change your environment. Remove any reminders of your addiction from your home and workplace. For example, separate from those who would encourage you to be involved with the object of your addiction (drug, alcohol, or behavior). If you are trying to quit drinking, get rid of any alcohol, bottle openers, wine glasses, and corkscrews. If you're trying to quit gambling, remove any reminders of your gambling and gambling venue, such as playing cards, scratch tickets, or poker chips. Also, don't let other people use or bring reminders of the addiction-related substance or behavior into your home.

3. Learn new skills and activities. Instead of giving in to an urge to use, come up with alternative activities, such as going for a walk, to keep you busy until the urge passes. Be prepared to deal with things that trigger your cravings, such as being in an environment where others are using.

4. Review your past quitting attempts. Think about what worked and what did not. Think of what might have contributed to relapse and change accordingly.

5. Create a support network. Talk to your family and friends, and ask for their encouragement and support. Let them know you are quitting. If they use your object of addiction, ask them not to do so in front of you. If you buy drugs, you should consider telling your dealer that you are quitting; ask your dealer not to call you and not to sell you drugs anymore. Also, you might want to consider talking to your health care provider about the method of quitting that is best for you. There may be medications that can ease the process for you, and increase your chances of success.

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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.