Develop Your Emotional Coping Skills
One of the main reasons we typically struggle with addiction is because we dont have the necessary emotional coping skills to handle our life problems.
Typical emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger, overwhelm, frustration and fear all take a toll. Specifically, they feed on our willpower and thereby weaken our level of self-control as the day wears on.
Our willpower is, of course, a limited resource. We typically have more willpower early in the morning, but it quickly fades as the day wears on due to our emotional baggage. Every negative emotional experience we have depletes our willpower. And the less willpower we have, the more likely we are to succumb to instant gratification and indulge in our addictions.
To avoid falling into this trap, its important that we take the time to develop our emotional coping skills. When we learn to handle difficult emotions in optimal ways, we subsequently protect the pool of willpower we have at our disposal. And as a result, we are more likely to resist daily temptations and addictions.
For more information on how to cope with painful emotions, please read about How to Master Your Emotions.
What Is Sexual Addiction
Id say the biggest thing that most people dont understand about sexual addiction is that sex addiction isnt about sex. The way that I see it, sexual addiction is more about shame, isolation, adrenaline, and unworthiness than it is about chasing after sexual experiences.
Or, as one SAA member once so eloquently put it in a meeting that I attended, When I act out with sex workers, Im not thinking to myself Oh boy, this is going to be super fun!. But rather, Im thinking I have such a tornado of pain inside of myself that I either have to kill myself or compulsively act out to numb the pain.’
Compulsive sexual behaviour is what sex addicts use to numb out their emotions, just like alcoholics often use staying drunk to avoid feeling their underlying difficult emotions.
Sexual addiction, just like any drug addiction, can have a sliding scale of symptoms ranging in severity. For some people, sex addiction looks like chronic masturbation to porn, where they dont feel like they can function in society without climaxing at least seven times a day. For others, sex addiction could look like occasional flare ups of wanting to use or act out with sex workers only when theyre going through emotionally trying times .
Ive met hundreds of sex addicts and there is no singular unifying theme that connects all addicts at least not in terms of how they like to act out sexually.
If the behaviour has control over you, then it has likely become a problem in your life.
What Are The Principles Of Effective Treatment
Research shows that when treating addictions to opioids , medication should be the first line of treatment, usually combined with some form of behavioral therapy or counseling. Medications are also available to help treat addiction to alcohol and nicotine.
Additionally, medications are used to help people detoxify from drugs, although detoxification is not the same as treatment and is not sufficient to help a person recover. Detoxification alone without subsequent treatment generally leads to resumption of drug use.
For people with addictions to drugs like stimulants or cannabis, no medications are currently available to assist in treatment, so treatment consists of behavioral therapies. Treatment should be tailored to address each patient’s drug use patterns and drug-related medical, mental, and social problems.
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What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Overcoming Addiction
The most effective treatment for addiction is, in a few words, long-term5 and comprehensive.6
Addiction treatment must address every aspect of a recovering addicts life, including navigating a successful re-entry into the real world. Ongoing support is also needed for those critical first three years, and beyond.
What Are Substance Abuse And Addiction
The difference between substance abuse and addiction is very slight. Substance abuse means using an illegal substance or using a legal substance in the wrong way. Addiction begins as abuse, or using a substance like marijuana or cocaine.
You can abuse a drug without having an addiction. For example, just because Sara smoked pot a few times doesn’t mean that she has an addiction, but it does mean that she’s abusing a drug and that could lead to an addiction.
People can get addicted to all sorts of substances. When we think of addiction, we usually think of alcohol or illegal drugs. But people become addicted to medicines, cigarettes, even glue.
Some substances are more addictive than others: Drugs like crack or heroin are so addictive that they might only be used once or twice before the user loses control.
Addiction means a person has no control over whether he or she uses a drug or drinks. Someone who’s addicted to cocaine has grown so used to the drug that he or she has to have it. Addiction can be physical, psychological, or both.
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Popular Substance Abuse Recovery Programs
When a person with an addiction seeks treatment, odds are they will be directed to a 12-step recovery program such as Alcoholics Anonymous , Narcotics Anonymous or similar spiritual approach to recovery. The AA model was developed by Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson in 1935, and remains the traditional model for addiction recovery in the U.S. It works like this: You admit that you are powerless over the substance or situation, you recognize that a higher power can restore your sobriety, you examine past mistakes with the help of a sponsor and make amends, then you learn to live by a new code of behavior and agree to help others who suffer from the same addiction.
There are other popular out-patient addiction recovery approaches as well. These include motivational techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy and SMART Recovery, a support group model that employs a 4-Point program of building and maintaining motivation, coping with urges, managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and living a balanced life. Unlike AA, SMART Recovery does not accept that individuals are powerless, but rather helps participants find their strengths and use them.
When all else fails, there is jail! Of course, this usually is not a solution.
Extraordinary Awakenings And The Disappearance Of Addiction
The deconditioning process is the same regardless of the food category. The idea is to slowly and methodically reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener in the foods that you eat. As you reduce, you will notice your palette changing to prefer less sweet. If you worry that you will end up doomed to a bland diet, dont. Remember, you are doing this slowly, which means that you will gradually come to prefer less sugar. Tony may have helped create your sweet tooth, but you can be the one to undo it.
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Time To Assimilate These Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Im confident you will gain tremendous value from using the accompanying IQ Matrix for coaching or self-coaching purposes. This mind map provides you with a quick visual overview of the article you just read. The branches, interlinking ideas, and images model how the brain thinks and processes information. Its kind of like implanting a thought into your brain an upgrade of sorts that optimizes how you think about these concepts and ideas.
Your Addiction Can Get Worse
Because addiction is measured on a spectrum, its true that a mild diagnosis may not be as bad as a severe one. Its easy to say, I could be worse. Its important to remember that addiction is a progressive disease, meaning it will get worse. If youre only a mild case right now, it will likely become moderate or severe in the future.
Addiction is a chronic disease, much like asthma, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and many others. If you were diagnosed with stage 1 cancer, would you not seek some form of treatment to prevent it from getting worse? You dont have to be at rock bottom to need treatment. Get help before it gets out of hand. If you are at rock bottom or have a severe diagnosis, its never too late to get the help you need.
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Why Is Quitting So Hard
Addiction affects the frontal cortex of your brain and alters your impulse control and judgment. The brain’s reward system is also altered so that the memory of previous rewards can trigger craving or increased “hunger” for drugs or rewarding experiences, in spite of negative consequences.
These changes in your brain can make quitting difficult, but it is important to remember that addictions are treatable. With the right plan and resources, recovery is possible.
The good news is that you can quit, although it’s a complicated process. There are many factorsphysical, mental, emotional, and biologicalthat make quitting difficult. This complexity is why so many people find treatment helps guide them through the process of quitting. Even still, many people are successful in quitting on their own.
What Are The Types
According to U.K. charity Action on Addiction, 1 in 3 people in the world have an addiction of some kind. Addiction can come in the form of any substance or behavior.
The most well-known and serious addiction is to drugs and alcohol. Nearly 1 in 10 Americans have an addiction to both. Of the people with a drug addiction, more than two-thirds also abuse alcohol.
The most common drug addictions are:
- nicotine, found in tobacco
Technology, sex, and work addictions are not recognized as addictions by the American Psychiatric Association in their most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Some habits or social behaviors look like addiction. But in the case of an addiction, a person will typically react negatively when they dont get their reward. For example, someone addicted to coffee can experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms such as severe headaches and irritability.
Most signs of addiction relate to a persons impaired ability to maintain self-control. This includes changes that are:
- social, such as seeking out situations that encourage a substance or behavior
- behavioral, such increased secrecy
- health related, such as insomnia or memory loss
- related to personality
Someone with an addition wont stop their behavior, even if they recognize the problems the addiction is causing. In some cases, theyll also display a lack of control, like using more than intended.
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Dont Trust Your Thoughts
As human beings we have a brilliant capacity for bullshitting ourselves.
It can take years of spinning our wheels in the mud before we realize that we arent making any progress in a certain area of our lives.
Some people think that sex addiction isnt a real addiction. Some people say dismissive things like, Well, if thats what sex addiction is, then every guy I know is a sex addict. As with many process addictions, sexual addiction is a commonly misunderstood one.
So what is sex addiction, and why is it so frequently misunderstood?
Changes In Relationships And Friendships
Your relationships and friendships are likely to change as you overcome your addiction. It may take time to appreciate a new normal.
You may also be touched by the loyalty and simplicity of those who live life without chasing a high. You may find that friends and family whom you could not get along with while you were embroiled in your addiction welcome you back into their lives.
However, it can also take time and effort for trust to be re-established if you have hurt friends or family while you were actively involved in your addiction.
You may also find that you have less in common with the friends you spent the most time with during your addiction than you realized, and you might find they are intolerant to your new lifestyle.
Remember, you are a great role model and doing these friends a great service by showing them that change is possible. That said, don’t let them pull you back into the life you left behind.
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The First Step To Overcoming Drug Abuse And Addiction
Developing an addiction to drugs isnt a character flaw or a sign of weakness, and it takes more than willpower to overcome the problem. Abusing illegal or certain prescription drugs can create changes in the brain, causing powerful cravings and a compulsion to use that makes sobriety seem like an impossible goal. But recovery is never out of reach, no matter how hopeless your situation seems or how many times youve tried and failed before. With the right treatment and support, change is always possible.
For many people struggling with addiction, the toughest step toward recovery is the very first one: recognizing that you have a problem and deciding to make a change. Its normal to feel uncertain about whether youre ready to start recovery, or if you have what it takes to quit. If youre addicted to a prescription drug, you may be concerned about how youre going to find an alternate way to treat a medical condition. Its okay to feel torn. Committing to sobriety involves changing many things, including:
- the way you deal with stress
- who you allow in your life
- what you do in your free time
- how you think about yourself
- the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take
Its also normal to feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice, even when you know its causing problems in your life. Recovery requires time, motivation, and support, but by making a commitment to change, you can overcome your addiction and regain control of your life.
Spiritual Support In Overcoming Addiction
There is scientifically supported evidence that faith and spirituality are protective factors against relapse.
In a 2008 study, individuals who maintained their recovery had significantly greater levels of faith and spirituality as compared to those who relapsed.12
Another study published in 2015 showed that those who reported that they felt Gods presence on a daily basis and believed in a higher power as a universal spirit also had better outcomes than those who did not.13
Several studies have shown a relationship between having faith or spirituality and sobriety length. Addicts also said that faith was an important component of their recovery efforts and helpful in maintaining changes made during treatment.14
On a general level, higher levels of religiosity and spirituality have been associated with greater physical and mental health, as shown in many studies.15
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How To Overcome An Addiction
This article was co-authored by Tiffany Douglass, MA. Tiffany Douglass is the Founder of Wellness Retreat Recovery Center, a JCAHO accredited drug and alcohol treatment program based in San Jose, California. She is also the Executive Director for Midland Tennessee at JourneyPure. She has over ten years of experience in substance abuse treatment and was appointed a Global Goodwill Ambassador in 2019 for her efforts in residential addiction treatment. Tiffany earned a BA in Psychology from Emory University in 2004 and an MA in Psychology with an emphasis on Organization Behavior and Program Evaluation from Claremont Graduate University in 2006.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 25 testimonials and 100% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,122,411 times.
Theres a myth out there that addiction is inescapable or something thats locked in for life, but thats definitely not the case. In fact, more people succeed at overcoming their addiction than fail.XResearch source Acknowledging that youre addicted to something and wanting to change are the first steps, so youre on the right track! This article will show you how to come up with a plan for overcoming your addiction and stick with it, even when things get tough.
Generate A New Behavior
Having gone through the self-evaluation process, you are now ready to create a new empowering behavior that replaces your addiction. And this is of course of paramount importance.
Your addiction is nothing more but a habit you have developed over time. Habits are of course deeply ingrained into our psyche, which makes them very difficult to change.
To eliminate a habit, you need to replace it with something else that satisfies the same needs you were craving while indulging in your addiction.
With this in mind, think back to the previous step where you questioned the benefits you derived from your addiction. These benefits are in essence the needs you seek to satisfy while indulging in your addiction. Your new behavior must fundamentally address these same needs. In other words, it must fulfill the same desires of your addiction, but in healthy and beneficial ways.
If for instance, you have a cigarette addiction, then going cold-turkey will rarely work in the long-run. Your brain needs a new empowering habit that replaces the old pattern of behavior .
With this in mind, some people develop the habit of chewing gum or chewing on a toothpick to interrupt their cigarette craving. This works quite well for a certain percentage of individuals who satisfy their cigarette cravings with this new habit. However, it doesnt work for all people because chewing gum doesnt quite meet the needs they get from smoking cigarettes.
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