Battling Addiction

Nothing can affect the quality of your life as much as becoming addicted. If you aren’t addicted to a specific drug but instead a particular activity, you still have a drug problem. This is because whether you are a sex addict, video-game addict or addicted to gambling, each of these activities release tremendous amounts of endorphins into your body (i.e. testosterone, adrenaline, etc.).As you habitually perform these activities your body comes to expect frequent release of the same endorphins or else you will begin to become stressed, angry, or confuse- these are all signs of someone going through a drug withdrawal. If you want to overcome your addiction you need to identify what the addiction is, what the root causes are, and create a plan to tackle these issues head-on.

Before you can treat an addiction you first need to be able to acknowledge that the behavior you are repeating is reducing the quality of life you are leading. Most people choose to believe they are in complete control of their addictions – they will point to their jobs, relationships, or hobbies as proof that since they are able to maintain the illusion of control in other aspects of their lives they should be allowed to lose control in another aspect. This is a justification process that all addicts battle with, as everyone wants to believe that if they think hard enough they can change who they are. Unfortunately, this is just an unrealistic expectation as few people have the combination of physical drive and psychological fortitude to tackle addiction head-on by themselves (Over 90% of people who try to treat their addictions by themselves end up relapsing into the same behavior within a few weeks). It usually takes the assistance of friends, family, and professionals to help people fully understand their problem, what is causing it, and how to address it.

Finding the root causes of why you are repeating a behavior can be  painful – many of us are addicted to taking a drug or going to the casino without having ever taken the time to analyze why we are doing what we are doing. On the surface addicts always tell themselves that they do things for the sensation – however, once you’ve experienced something repeatedly the sensation should be “watered-down” so that it loses its effectiveness. For addicts, this has the opposite affect, as it only increases their need to enhance the experience so the sensation remains “real.” This can mean taking larger amounts of drugs, placing larger and more reckless wagers, and having sex with increasingly random partners (perhaps without using the proper protection). A perpetuated behavior is always caused by some type of psychological or environmental conditioning – the gambling addict isn’t addicted to BlackJack or Video-Poker; he is addicted to the physical and mental sensations that come from taking risks for monetary gain. The feelings a gambler gets can be a whirling mixture of fear, amusement, and excitement. Many gamblers are typically looking for these feelings because they do not feel  any risk, excitement, or amusement in their daily lives. So they are using gambling as a means to experience something they believe to be a missing part of their life. While self-analysis can be very beneficial, there are doctors, psychotherapists, and psychiatrists who can be incredibly helpful in helping you discover why you are behaving like you do. Once you can find what the root cause of your behavior is, it is much easier to make a plan on how to tackle the issue.

Tackling your addiction is actually easier than you think – if you can admit you have an addiction and find the root cause of it, you have already taken tremendous steps towards resolving it. Now you have the information you need to come up with a plan to logically address your addiction. Don’t try and overcome your addiction by yourself – you need a support system to make changes in your behavior, as not only people, but even sights and sounds can serve as “triggers” that compel you towards a behavior. Your friends, family, and doctor’s will help you find out what your triggers are so that you can avoid these things at all costs. Additionally, your friends, family, and doctor’s will help you find other things you can do with your time that adequately replace the sensations you derived from your addiction. Many gambling addicts have found great release in participating in sports, as many sports contain a thrilling blend of excitement and adrenaline with the concept of a winner and loser still being in play. Many sex addicts have found great release in participating in yoga, pilates, or other relaxation techniques that can help reduce stress and balance hormone levels. Many drug addicts have found great release through reading books on their addictions or speaking with other addicts in a therapeutic setting, as this can bring the addict a greater understanding of their disorder and how to handle it.

Battling addiction is a war you may have to fight your entire life, as one addiction can easily be replaced by another. However, as long as you are intellectually honest with yourself you will always be aware of when you are risking an addiction and will know the steps you need to take to improve your life. Wars aren’t won overnight, so remember to keep battling addiction no  matter what – your life is worth fighting for!