Are you chemically dependent on a substance or behavior?
If you are chemically dependent on drugs or alcohol, it means that when the substance or behavior isn’t available to you, you go into a state of pretty strong discomfort. You might have physical symptoms (tremors, headaches, cravings, etc) as well as unpleasant emotional states (grumpiness, depression, aggravation, panic).
Two other hallmarks of addiction are obsession and compulsion. If you are obsessed, your thinking centers mostly around your drug: getting it, recovering from it, craving for more, the how and the when of it.
If you are compulsive, that means your behavior happens almost on its own, without your full consent or control. Even when you have good reasons not to, you find it hard to override your urges to use.
If you think you may have an addiction, and you would like to break it, congratulations, you’re in good company. There are many, many benefits to living free from the enslavement to substance or behavior, and there are many wonderful, interesting, and smart people who have done the same. These people will be your friends and community once you do the work to get yourself there.
Here is how to break an addiction once and for all.
1. Give up mood-altering substances, forever.
Addiction creates a change in the body, brain chemistry, and the spirit, and it is very, very unlikely that you will be able to recover the ability to use your substance casually.
Most people with an addicted profile also find that they cannot engage in another substance as a substitute. For example, if cocaine is your main drug, you can’t switch to only beer or marijuana, and make it very long. This is because the core mechanism of dampening your experience chemically rather than through healing it from within will sooner or later lead you down the same path.
This is more true the longer you have been doing it, and the more severely you have become chemically dependent, but either way it is almost always best to accept that there is no going back to casual use.
This might be hard to fathom just now, but rest assured there are millions of people around the world who are completely clean and sober, all the time, every day, living normal lives, attending weddings, parties and concerts, having sex, experiencing the full rainbow spectrum of human experience, all completely sober.
2. Change yourself from the inside
Understand that you must replace the drug with something else –a natural, organic way of transmuting your suffering into a life you can tolerate. That means you need to heal your thoughts, your emotions, your spirit, and your body, so that you are an intact, fit human being who is up for the task of life.
This can be done, but it takes work and it takes time. The good news is, it is accomplished in a very small, piece by piece way, breath by breath, day by day. You don’t need to know how you will get through tomorrow, but only get through right now without reverting to using your substance.
Typically, a full on, head to toe, thorough personality renovation is required to be able to stay sober longer term. That’s because the reason we turned to addiction in the first place is because of what we’re like on the inside – what our thoughts are like, what feelings those thoughts create in us, how we experience our lives.
We would not become addicts in the first place if we were having a good old time being us. No, usually it’s no fun to be us, sober. That can be changed, but it is a slow process, like restoring topsoil. It is not done overnight.
There are 2 main paths to this self-restoration: treatment and 12 Step. 12 Step has the advantage of being free of cost and mostly likely available in your local area without you having to go too far.
All in all the best approach would be treatment in combination with a 12 step program like AA or NA, for ensuring the long term follow through and daily habit changes which are typically required to turn into someone who doesn’t find life unbearable without substances.
All in all, it’s good to know this: People all over the world recover from addiction and live sober every single day. They live lives of joy, deep meaning, fulfillment and purpose. They have lives far beyond what they ever imagined for themselves. You can have this too!