How Can I Give Up Addiction?
It’s a big question.
As a recovered addict who offers support to people trying to quit, this is the question that people ask the most.
It’d be good if there was one single answer, but I don’t think there is. We’re all unique psychologically, with different beliefs and experiences, so it makes sense how we successfully kick addiction will vary from person to person.
In saying that, I do believe that there are common steps that are useful to everyone who’s trying to quit (irrespective of what their addiction is). Steps like making a plan to quit, learning what your triggers are, having some level of support, being kind to yourself, reflecting if you relapse so you can be aware of this pitfall for next time, making a routine to avoid the dangers of autopilot and/or spare time, dealing with any underlying emotional triggers, expecting down days so they don’t catch you off guard, etc.
I think it’s important that people who are trying to quit their addiction are aware of the common steps. They’re tools that make up an addiction recovery toolkit. We might use a different combination of tools from the next person, and lots of people might successfully and permanently quit without using many of the tools at all – but each tool has a different purpose to get the job done. I needed the entire toolbox to successfully and permanently quit.
My addictions were to alcohol and weed for 25 years, as well as methamphetamines and gambling for 10 years. Over the years my addictions kept getting worse until I lost 90% of everything that I cared about. I’m very lucky I didn’t go to prison because I shamefully committed a serious non-violent crime to support my addictions. In 2014 I also lost my dad to suicide due to his own gambling addiction.
So I’m pissed at addiction. But addiction doesn’t care that I’m pissed – that doesn’t do any good, or hurt addiction at all. The best way I found to express my extreme distaste towards addiction, was to free myself from its control first, then to help free other people – I wanted to help remove some of the power that addiction had over others, because I know how much pain it causes people.
So when people asked me for advice on how to quit, I was giving half-complete answers, because I never thought about the answer very well. Half-complete answers aren’t good enough when people’s wellbeing and lives are at stake. So I sat down, and thought about what helped me kick addiction. I tried to quit probably over 100 times. It never worked because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing
I found addiction really tough mentally. I found quitting really tough, and it was really dark at times. It took me a long time to repair my mental health. But the one thing that’s harder than quitting, is staying an addict for the rest of your life. I don’t think I could’ve survived many more years of being an addict.
So the list of what helped me personally, turned into 20 Steps to Give Up Addiction for Good. Many are common steps that will apply to everyone looking to quit. Some are backed by highly reputable scientific studies, the rest is just good advice (I didn’t invent it, I just compiled it). If anyone out there is looking for advice on how to quit, I encourage you to read it, and I hope it helps you too. This is what opened the door to my sober life. It saved my life.
For the people who have already quit addiction who are reading this, I’m curious what helped you quit for good? I’d like to know what tools worked for you if you’d be kind enough to tell me.
I think it’s powerful to share your story if you’re a recovered addict. Unless you have little to no self-awareness, you very likely learned things throughout that journey that might be of benefit to someone else in their journey with addiction.
All of our stories are unique to us, but there are always lessons learned – powerful information we learned the hard way - and when shared, it can be used back on addiction itself to remove just a bit more of its power. It’s exactly your story of hope and experience of what you learned, that can shine a light for others to get out too.
Rachael Styles writes about addiction and solutions over at www.lightinmyshadow.com
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