You’ve recognized you possess a problem-that your addictive behavior has effects on other areas of your life-and you wish to learn how to quit an addiction. The probabilities are that you didn’t be prepared to become addicted when you began. You might have thought you were having a great time and could quit anytime just. Many individuals who develop addictions are amazed at how tough they find their initial attempt at stopping, and expire up wanting to know, Why can’t I give up?
The good thing is that you could quit, though it is an elaborate process. There are plenty of elements, physical, mental, and psychological, that produce quitting difficult. That is why a lot of people find treatment beneficial to instruction them through the complicated procedure for quitting – although some individuals are successful quitting by themselves.
Understanding why quitting is so difficult can help you see that everyone overcoming an addiction goes through the same process to some extent. It is not that you are especially weak-willed or that you are failing any more than anyone else. When you find yourself thinking, feeling, or acting in a particular way that goes against your decision to quit, you can be more compassionate with yourself, and keep trying.
Tolerance and withdrawal are key symptoms of addiction. They are strongly interconnected and are the main processes that got you addicted in the first place. If people didn’t develop tolerance and withdrawal, they would find it a lot simpler to quit probably.
Tolerance is a psychological and physical process. When you have an addictive element or behavior the very first time, it may be overwhelming, unpleasant even, or it may be mild and pleasurable. If the result feels strong, you may feel there is absolutely no danger of you attempting to overdo it. If it’s mild, it might appear harmless and innocent.
The even more times the behavior is repeated, the much less sensitivity you need to it, and the even more you have to get the same effect. Drugs, such as for example opiates and alcohol, work on specific elements of the mind, creating physical tolerance. Behaviors, such as for example gambling and sex, produce feelings of pleasure that get less extreme as time passes. As tolerance develops, you might want to do even more of the medication or behavior to find the same effect.
As you become addicted, you may encounter withdrawal when you aren’t able to do the addictive behavior. Physical withdrawal symptoms may occur, such as shaking, feeling unwell, belly upsets, and/or mental withdrawals symptoms, such as feeling anxious and depressed. These are easily fixed by more of the addictive compound or behavior.
Blocks to Giving up: Conflict and Ambivalence
When your addictive behavior becomes excessive to the point of creating conflict, it is out of balance with other parts of your life. Conflict may occur within yourself – you would like to rein in your behavior while, at the same time, have higher urges to do it. Conflicts also happen with other people: whether they want you to quit or need you to join them in the addictive behavior.
Despite making a commitment to quit, and going through the withdrawal phase, conflicts do not simply go away. Expectations are higher than ever before. The one thing you depended on to cope with stress-the addictive behavior-is definitely now off limits.
This is why it is so important to have other ways of coping firmly established, ideally before quitting. A therapist will help you with this. Without coping strategies in place, you are likely to experience strong urges to go back to the addictive behavior “one more time.” Relationship support can help you deal with and prevent conflicts without using your addictive behavior for comfort and ease and escape.
Ambivalence, the mixed feelings of both wanting to continue with the addictive behavior and wanting to quit, is section of the addictive process even in the early stages of experimentation. Often, this is felt when it comes to “right” and “wrong,” a moral dilemma, especially in relation to sexual and illegal behaviors. In some cases, guilt feelings are appropriate; in others, they are not.
Guilt and Justification
The discomfort of these feelings of guilt when your behavior doesn’t fit with your own standards of right and wrong can be a strong motivator to make changes. Sometimes it can work against you, causing you to justify your behavior to yourself and other people. This can get in the way of the decision to quit.
Some common justifications are:
Denial: “It’s not a problem.”
Demurring or minimization: “I have already cut down.”
Diversion: “Pollution is definitely more dangerous.” “Uncle Ted drinks far more than I do.”
Defiance: “I would rather live a shorter existence and be happy than quit and be miserable.”
Idealization: “I am way more sociable when I’ve experienced a drink.”
Rationalization: “I’ve by no means stolen to finance my habit,” “I’ve by no means hit a woman.”
Lesser of two evils: “Better I do it than I become impossible to live with.”
Misinformation: “Malignancy doesn’t run in my family.” “It offers medicinal uses, so it’s OK.” “Chocolate is the only treatment for PMS.”
Taking behavior out of context: “In some cultures, polygamy is suitable.”
Glorification: “Queen Victoria used to…” “Patriarchs in the Old Testament experienced many wives.” “Jesus drank wine.”
How Can You Quit?
Therapy can help you to cope with uncomfortable feelings and help you unravel the irrational thoughts that preserve you addicted. Quitting is not easy or straightforward, but a good treatment program will help you accomplish it when you are ready. Although treatment will make the process of quitting easier, it is not essential – many persons stop addictions on their own or use self-help resources.