6 Essential Steps To Quitting an Addiction
When you struggle with addiction, quitting is always somewhere in the back of your mind, but the reality of it seems out of reach. You may wonder what it would be like if you never used again or how you might go about the process before taking any steps toward recovery.
If you’ve ever considered overcoming your drug use, now is the perfect time to start. Going through the process of overcoming addiction takes time and commitment. Everyone goes through their own journey regarding addiction, so each step you take may look different from someone else's.
While you can learn from others who have gone through the addiction recovery process, don’t be afraid to try things that are specifically useful to you. This is your comeback story.
To learn six essential steps to quitting an addiction, keep reading.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a neuropsychological disorder that creates an intense urge or craving to engage in a certain behavior even though a lot of damage is being done. This repetitive substance abuse becomes overwhelmingly important in everyday life and can have debilitating effects.
While most people associate addicts with drug addiction and alcohol addiction, a person can be addicted to other concepts, like gambling, sex, porn, and even food.
No matter what your addiction is, it’s likely that it has negative consequences for your mental health and physical health. Seeking help with your addiction will give you the best chance at overcoming it, but quitting isn’t as easy as it may sound.
Why Is Quitting So Hard?
When you are addicted to something, whether a substance or an activity, you develop a dependency and reliance on addictive substances or behaviors. For many, it is impossible to function without having substances inside their body, or they become extremely irritated and distraught when they cannot feed their addiction.
This is because addiction alters your brain chemistry and supplies you with dopamine you aren’t getting elsewhere. Addiction isn’t a choice — it is an evidence-based health condition.
Many people who develop addiction are predisposed to it through genetics and environmental factors, making quitting even more difficult than simply choosing to find treatment and not use. When your body is going through cravings, and your mind is begging you to seek out your addiction, it takes a lot of willpower and determination to say no.
You may struggle even if you’re seeking an effective treatment plan and have a robust support system with family members and loved ones.
Steps To Quitting an Addiction
Prepare for the recovery process to be difficult. Know that you will struggle, and it will feel like your world is ending at times, but it’s just a trick your mind is playing. You will have to fight urges and make the right choices very consciously to see improvements and enter into sober living.
With the right substance abuse treatment approach and professional help, your chances of success can be very high.
Not everyone will follow the same path when quitting an addiction, so take all the time you need. It is not a race to the finish line, so be mindful of your choices and make decisions that are specifically right for you.
1. Recognize Your Problems
Before you can even start your recovery journey, you need to be able to recognize your problems. A person with an addiction who can’t admit they have a problem may struggle to get better.
You can’t fight with yourself about the reality of the situation; you have to accept it and make a daily choice to choose sobriety. And you can do it.
For many people with an addiction, realizing you have an issue allows you to reach out to people who have offered you help before. There are likely situations where someone in your life has offered you help, and you’ve declined it.
Talk to those people about your willingness to get help. Having support behind you and accountability from loved ones makes the act of quitting a bit less scary.
2. Consider Your Treatment Options
Once you admit that you have a problem, consider what your options are for seeking treatment programs. You could try many options, including inpatient and outpatient treatment centers.
Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous can be great ways to gain support networks. SAMHSA’s national helpline can help when you’re taking the first steps of your journey to well-being.
If you are someone who might experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, you might want to consider a medical detox under the supervision of addiction professionals.
The best addiction treatment option you can pick is the one that works for you. If you cannot drop everything and go into a 24/7 inpatient care facility, don’t! Find support groups and AA groups you can access without abandoning your responsibilities. If you can enter a treatment facility, do that if you think it’s best for you.
3. Identify Your Triggers
Struggling with addiction or substance use disorder can include being set off by certain triggers at any given moment. You may or may not recognize a trigger as being connected to your addiction.
The smell of alcohol triggers some people, and others are triggered by adults screaming at each other. Certain locations and places might set a person off, or even seeing a familiar face or hearing a certain name could act as a trigger. These actions may trigger you into seeking out your addiction because of the feelings or memories associated with them.
To avoid triggers, you have to know what they are. That way, you can have a plan in motion for when you encounter a trigger that doesn’t involve you turning to your addiction.
This step might include cutting off certain people who are bad influences, avoiding bars and spaces where drinking is encouraged, or limiting your stress by quitting a job you hate. If you want to see improvements, you really have to be ready for anything.
4. Establish a Safe Environment
People in active addiction usually don’t spend their time around safe individuals. Most of the time, a person with an addiction will spend more time around people who are also in active addiction. It’s easier to partake in your addiction if more people around you are doing it and having a good time.
When you want to quit your addiction, you need to establish a safe environment that does not allow you to access your addiction. The best way to do this is to remove all substances or items related to your addiction from your space.
It is best to cut off people that supply you with substances or enable your addiction. You also need to avoid places and people that don’t have your best interest in mind — this might be the strip club, casinos, bars, or sporting events.
5. Learn Healthy Coping Mechanism
You can replace your bad habits with healthy coping mechanisms if you want to quit an addiction.
Everyone will find what works for them, but a few healthy coping mechanisms you can try out are:
Exercising: When you feel the urge to act on your addiction, replace the act of using with exercise. If you feel a craving come on, lace up your sneakers, and go for a power walk. Some people will practice yoga and mindfulness in situations where their cravings feel unbearable.
Distraction: If you think you want to cave into your addiction, find a healthy distraction to take your mind off of things. Read a book or journal until you feel that urge subsiding. Distracting yourself from negative thoughts can help you realize that they will not harm you unless you let them.
Therapy/Venting: When you feel cravings, you can find a safe person to vent to, either a close friend or a therapist. Whoever you trust to talk with, you should be able to send them a little message to get your thoughts and feelings off of your chest.
6. Join a Sober Community
Surrounding yourself with sober individuals with the same goal can lift you up and help you quit your addiction. Some people lean on AA meetings, participating in group therapy, and finding a sober buddy to help with accountability.
Most areas will have groups dedicated to your specific addiction; within these groups, you can see that you truly aren’t alone.
For easy and instantaneous access to an uplifting sober community, consider downloading the Sober Sidekick app for Android or iPhone. This app allows people seeking sobriety to support and encourage others to maintain their goals and seek sobriety.
You can also chat with addiction professionals and access resources that might be useful to you.
Getting help doesn’t have to be lonely. While it can seem scary to put yourself out there to be able to become sober, the improvements you will see are a direct result of your strength and persistence.
What is the Definition of Addiction? | American Society of Addiction Medicine
Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction | NIDA