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Beating Addictions

by jussiecatwriter (follow)
Depression (39)      Support (28)      Planning (23)      Self-Esteem (21)      Habits (17)      Self-Confidence (10)      Addictions (4)      Self-Compassion (4)      Insight (4)      Self-control (3)     


When you see that the negatives outweigh the positives, addictions ARE worth overcoming AND YOU CAN
Whether it be cigarettes, over-eating, or gambling, addictions can be about avoiding what's really bothering you, but they CAN be overcome. Image courtesy of Mister GC at freedigitalphotos.net


Whether it be
- Smoking
- Drinking Alcohol
- Gambling
- Online game addiction
- Prescription or illict drug misuse
- Over-eating

Anyone who has struggled with any of these difficult to extinguish behaviours will know how difficult it can be. Sometimes you may feel helpless, that you have negligible control over these habits. Sadly, the nature of addiction is that it controls the person who is wrapped up in its tentacles.

However it is NOT unbeatable.

1. The first thing to remember is to have self-compassionAddiction has complex aetiology and thus can be complex to treat. You probably are beating yourself up enough. So the first step is to be gentle with yourself.

2. Write down a list of positives the addiction provides you with, for example I was addicted to an online game for ages and I also overeat. For me it’s comforting. How else could you comfort yourself - The reasons you need to know what it does for you is to be able to identify alternative more life-affirming activities you can replace them with. **Make a long and extensive list, based on what you like, with a timetable.

Structure and alternative activities are vital.** It would be ridiculous to suggest that you can replace an addictive activity that is obviously reinforcing for whatever reason with nothing.

2A So, if you are down and over-eat, perhaps put some time into something else interesting, and that will make you feel good.

For example, do up your place so it’s ‘you’. Do a fun exercise class. Play with your pet. Watch your favourite DVD. Life is about balance – work, play, social activities, self-nurturance with healthy food and enough rest. You deserve all these things.

Addiction and self-care cannot co-exist. It's also hard to feel in control when something is controlling you. And there's not much more depressing than being at the mercy of an external substance. It's short term a reinforcing activity, but long -term destructive, perhaps unhealthy and most addictions cost money to sustain - that you could buy super things with!


2A So, if you are down and over-eat, perhaps put some time into something else interesting, and that will make you feel good.

For example, do up your place so it’s ‘you’. Do a fun exercise class. Play with your pet. Watch your favourite DVD. Life is about balance – work, play, social activities, self-nurturance with healthy food and enough rest. You deserve all these things.

Addiction and self-care cannot co-exist.


1. The first thing to remember is to have self-compassion. Addiction has complex aetiology and thus can be complex to treat. You probably are beating yourself up enough. So the first step is to be gentle with yourself.

2. Write down a list of positives the addiction provides you with, for example I was addicted to an online game for ages and I also overeat. For me it’s comforting. How else could you comfort yourself - make a long and extensive list, based on what you like, with a timetable. Structure and alternative activities are vital. It would be ridiculous to suggest that you can replace an addictive activity that is obviously reinforcing for whatever reason with nothing.

2A So, if you are down and over-eat, perhaps put some time into something else interesting, and that will make you feel good.

Don’t over do anything, be gentle with yourself and lower your expectations. The theory that supports this has been proven in science. It’s based on the idea that we have limited ‘executive function’ or basically ‘limited self-control’. If we exceed this by having expectations exceeding our abilities, physical health or coping skills, we will demonstrate less persistence in the future. Slow and easy does it.

Plan. This is essential to overcome any kind of addiction which by nature is impulsive, unplanned and a reaching out to feel good quickly. However, as any of us embroiled in this insidious beast know, it is short-term, doesn’t assuage the real reasons for your depression, and comes back with a vengeance.

2B To the extent that you can, identify why you indulge in the addiction you do.
For example, suppose you over-eat because you are depressed. Why do you feel this way do you think? What used to give you pleasure? Just say it was exercise, or a walk in the botanical gardens or reading a good book. Why aren’t you doing them. Now here comes the ‘doozy’. You may say “I’m too depressed to do that.” Well there’s great news. We learnt in psychological science that the behaviour precedes the attitude toward the activity (or it can go both ways). That is, if you tidy up, “Self – Perception theory” suggests we are not aware of our own attitudes to behaviours. If we ‘watch ourselves’ say exercising, we perceive we must like it.

How many times have you thought “I really don’t feel like doing X, but I’ll do it anyway.” And once you’ve done it, and okay this might not be every time, you enjoyed it.

Maybe you spend a lot of time online because you have some social anxiety. Indulging a fear has also been backed by science to reinforce the fear – again self – perception theory. Even though it is unconscious, we infer our attitudes from our behaviours.

2C. Take it easy. Depression can be common in people who expect too much of themselves. Structure your day. Yes, include the work you need to do, but take it easy. It will get better over time as you replace healthy activities with addictions that are suppressing some sort of negative emotion or are an escape from painful emotions. Get a pretty good looking timetable and a diary. I bought myself an attractive one yesterday, and just doing it made it easier to gain insights about why I continued counterproductive behaviours, as well as having structure. Addiction can be a way of seeking control, and a routine is a counter-remedy for that.

3. Think about the costs of your addiction.
For example, overeating leads to poor health, gaining weight means I can’t wear clothes I like to wear and it makes me infer from my behaviour (self-perception) I don’t have self-control. This is quite an important consequence because if I believe I lack self-control in one area of my life, I may infer that I am at the whim of my impulses, despite consequences.

Online gaming means I fall behind in my studies. Essentially it is a waste of time. Ironically it draws you in, but really does it achieve anything.

Ultimately, it can lead to lower-confidence as you feel you can't master what you know you need to, a feeling of being out of control and low-self respect. Even though what we do is in our unconscious and we have no reason to beat ourselves up about it, unfortunately these negative cognitions still do a pretty good job of beating us up. Each time you think of these, tell yourself of what you did to conquer it, even if it was the tiniest of changes.

4 Take baby steps. As mentioned earlier, we only have so much executive control, so change one addictive/counterproductive behaviour at a time. And, with that behaviour take baby steps. Say I eat three chocolate bars a day. The strict approach of some is have none. I believe it is more realistic and less likely to rebound if you have say two, then one, and then find your favourite yummy healthy foods. And yes, tasty can go with healthy.

5. You do have to be somewhat strict with yourself. For a while it will be like a parent and child in your head, with your addicted child saying “but I want to play tetris” while you adult needs to be compassionate and say, “okay half an hour of tetris” but after that how about we do something together. (Addiction can be born out of loneliness, and studies show that connecting with meaningful others can be an effective antidote).

6. Replace your addiction with even a ‘healthy addiction’. What do you absolutely love? I love shopping (if I had a little money – it’s a rich mean’s world), puzzles, Zumba, making place look nice and writing.

7. They say it takes a month to beat an addiction. Get yourself a calender. Give yourself a star if you feel you got 80% there. If you make it unrealistic it may just start at step one again.
They say it takes 30 days to beat an addiction. Perhaps get a monthly calender and give yourself a star for each day.

8 Realise you’re not alone: if you looked at people who smoked, dranked, took drugs, online gaming, gambling, watched television too much, even sex addiction, workaholism, facebook addiction (some addictions obviously healthier than others): YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

9 As you do you journal, reveal day by day how you are going. Celebrate each success! 

10 Finally if you are still struggling, please seek professional help, there are also medications that can help if depression is underlying your addiction. There are groups. Spirituality can help. There may be many deeper issues happening for you. This is to say this doesn’t mean you can’t overcome. You can. You will. Affirm this every day. If you are spiritual, pray. Join a support group. You are never alone AND YOU CAN DO IT!!!**


# Addictions
# Habits
# Self-Compassion
# Insight
# Coping Strategies
# Support
# Life-affirming activities
# Depression
# Enjoyable activities
# Planning
# Self-perception
# Self-control
# Self-confidence
# Self-esteem
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