What is an Addiction and How to Kick the Habit in 4 Steps
“There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away.” ― Sherman Alexis
You wake up in the morning from a tumultuous dream. You are groggy and uncomfortable; your back hurts and your muscles are tense. So you reach out to the easiest form of comfort you know – chocolate. “Just one sweet little square. That’s all”, you promise.
You break the bar and place the piece in your mouth. The warm square melts on your tongue and you instantly feel better. But the second it’s down your throat, you feel empty again. “Just one more.” You devour the second one and feel the momentary relief again…and just like the first time, it’s gone.
“Only one more…and one more…and one more…”
It’s been years since you went a day without chocolate. Your doctors have warned you but you can’t seem to stop. Just the thought of giving up gives you shivers. Whatever would you do when you needed comfort? You cannot imagine a life away from chocolate.
What really are ‘Addictions’?
An ‘addiction’ is a condition that is the result when you use a substance (alcohol, sugar, nicotine) or engage in any activity (gambling, sex, shopping) that gives you pleasure.
Your intake becomes a compulsion.
Addiction interferes with your daily responsibilities and hampers your work, relationships, and/or health.
Addictions to Substances:
- Alcohol, Tobacco
- Prescription drugs (sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics like sleeping pills and tranquilizers), Cannabis (marijuana)
- Opioids (like heroin), Cocaine, Amphetamines (like methamphetamine, known as meth), and others
Addiction (Behavioural) Disorders:
- Impulse control disorders such as Kleptomania (compulsive stealing) and Pyromania (compulsive setting of fires);
- Gambling, sex/pornography, video games/computers/Internet, shopping, social media;
- Working, exercising, eating;
- Self-harm, and others.
Why is an Addiction Difficult to Break?
If you have an addiction, you may not realize their behavior is problematic. You may not understand that you are engaging in your addiction excessively. Even if you do, you may not be able to deal with the stress of not continuing the action.
Both addictive substances and highly intense actions trigger the release of dopamine in the individual’s brain (1).
This hormone is one of the body’s reward systems – it makes you feel good.
Thus, the brain registers the substance/experience as “important” and remembers it as a rewarding experience. Then, to receive the dopamine reward again, the brain tells the body to indulge in the addiction again. Finally, dopamine causes addictions to stick in the brain, even if the individual tries to break them.
Hence, it’s important to separate the addict from their actions – addiction is a dependent and not a conscious state.
What this means is that the addict is not in control of their actions. They physically cannot stop their behaviour till their circumstances change. For them to be able to heal, their predicament must be bettered – they must be helped to achieve the same state of relaxation that the addiction allows, but without the addiction.
How Can I Kick an Addiction?
As we have seen before, defeating an addiction is not just problem of will-power. It involves changing your body, mind, and life. You must create a new program for your brain to understand as pleasurable and relaxing so it can replace the addiction programs of the brain.
Convince Yourself You Want to Change
Very often, we fall back on meeting our goals because of a lack of conviction. If you’re convinced you want to achieve something, the likelihood that you will achieve it is much higher. Thus, just by knowing in your heart you want to kick your addiction, you greatly increase your chances of getting there!
Try this exercise: Write down 100 ways in which your addiction affects your emotions, your professional life, and those around you. These are your 100 reasons to gain freedom from your addiction.
Develop an Outcome-Focused Goal
Often, even if you know what you want to do and why you want to do it, it helps to have it worded succinctly for you to be able to repeat to yourself whenever need be.
- Start by identifying the most important reason you want to be free from your addiction.
- Then, think about how this reason affects you.
- Now, make this one sentence – this is what you want to defeat. This is your goal.
For example, a client of mine wanted to give up smoking. Her most important reason was to stop her clothes from smelling of smoke.
When I asked how they affected her, she said, “The smell on my clothes perpetually makes me feel nauseous. All of this really impacts my self-perception.”
When I asked how getting rid of all these effects would feel she said, “I would feel so proud of myself that I did it and that I am no longer controlled by smoking.” And this became her goal – “To feel proud of myself and be in full control of my actions.” Eventually, she was able to kick her addiction and doesn’t feel the need to smoke anymore!
What is important is that the goal must be phrased in the positive. For example, if her goal had been “To not smoke every day”, she wouldn’t have had the motivation to work towards it. Since her goal was worded to emphasize the goodness of not smoking, she found the courage to free herself from this compulsion.
Cultivate Pleasurable Feelings Consistently
When asked how she felt after her clothes stopped smelling like smoke, my clients replied, “Top of the world!” Since the smell of the smoke was a constant reminder of her addiction, the lack of the smell made her feel free and amazingly self-confident.
When working towards gaining freedom from an addiction, remember what this freedom makes you feel. When you keep in mind how achieving your goal will make you feel, you will be more motivated to keep up your momentum.
Use Emotional Freedom Techniques
Addictions can range from something as simple as a craving for a bar of chocolate or more complex, like dependence on drug or substance.
Overuse, of any substance, can be detrimental to physical health and in some situations sadly, can even lead to death. In severe cases, there can also be an underlying psychological distress that can also lead to addictions.
You can identify the emotions underlying your addictive behavior using Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Example of emotions underpinning addictive behaviors can be:
- Low Self-Esteem
With EFT, you can discover which of these or other emotions are leading to your addiction.
After this, you can use the EFT Tapping technique, which can be learned in 3 days with a Certified Trainer, to find where you feel these emotions in your body and how to eliminate the addiction from the root cause.
What’s more, is there is clinical proof behind the effectiveness EFT as an effective adjunct to addiction treatment by reducing the severity of general psychological distress (2).
Another clinical study conducted over 4 weeks showed that food cravings are multi–dimensional and complex occurrences and can be effectively eliminated using EFT, providing long-term results and even weight loss (3).
I gave up my chocolate cravings after Day 1 of EFT Training.
“Just a quick email to thank you for a fantastic day. I learned so much and feel very positive. Still, no galaxy (a Chocolate bar) and I feel in CONTROL of that. I don’t even want a hot chocolate, which is what I normally go for if I’m trying to not to have a bar of chocolate. I have come home and done all the work I have been putting off, with regards my website and I did not even think about it. I am so happy that after just 1 day of EFT training I feel so good. I feel in control and I feel better!!” says Emma. Emma Voss, Business Owner, London, UK. Attended EFT Practitioner Training UK 2011.
Addictions can be very debilitating. They can affect your work, your family, your relationships, and your daily mental space. Use the 4 steps above to free yourself of your addiction.
Take back your life! Start working towards fighting your addictions with EFT!
In conclusion, while addictions can range from something as simple as chocolates to life-threatening substances like drugs or alcohol, you still have a chance to free yourself of them now.
Get in touch with us.
Love Dr Rangana Rupavi Choudhuri (PhD) with Ashni Acharya
P.S. –Reply right back, if you work with others in the area of addictions and are eager to learn advanced techniques that are fast, clinically proven and routinely used in addiction clinics in UK, USA and Europe.
- Your Brain on Drugs – Dopamine and Addiction and article by David Herschman, Bigthink.
- The Effect of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) on Psychological Symptoms in Addiction Treatment: A Pilot Study, Dawson Church and Audrey Brooks
- Practical Application of Emotional Freedom Techniques for Food Cravings, Peta Stapleton BA, PGDipPsy, PhD, Terri Sheldon, BA (Hons) and Brett Porter, EFT Practitioner, September 2012.
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