How to Help Loved Ones
Overcome Their Addiction
By Elliot Caleira
Addictions often occur when we have a pleasurable activity that distracts us from what we really should be doing. There are many different kinds of addictions. Some are based on consuming harmful physical substances. Examples of these would be alcohol, drugs, smoking, or food addictions. Other addictions are mental problems. These include pornography, sex addiction, codependency, apathy, and workaholics. Overcoming addiction requires knowing our problem and then deciding to do something about it.
- Get Accountable
Having a person who does not struggle with the addiction that you have is helpful. It really helps if both of you have different types of addictions. Having a time each week where you and your accountability partner go through things that you are needing to improve in can push you to perform better. Your accountability partner should probably not be someone who is too friendly. They should be someone who challenges you to change in the areas where you are not doing so well.
- Remove Things That Are Contributing To The Addiction
Whatever the problem is, remove the environment or substance that is contributing to the addiction. If it is a chemical substance like alcohol, toss it out, and replace it with something healthier like juice. If it is a certain relationship, then gently break it off or set more boundaries with that person. Having the courage to do this often requires being more honest than you like to.
- Name The Problem Publicly
Honestly saying what you are struggling with to people who you feel slightly uncomfortable doing that to is very useful. That person can offer negative incentives such as being fired or extra rules to keep you in line. Good examples of people to name the problem to are a teacher, religious adviser, parent, nurse, or a tough friend. As people, we tend to function better when we have social pressure to do so.
- Outdoor Training
Getting wilderness therapy is good option as well. Our minds and bodies function best when they are outdoors pushing through challenges. We tend to get emotionally starved when we sit in a box all day. A do it yourself outdoors program could be a simple walk outside. Another way could be joining a hike or a sports team. Anything that gets your body moving is less time spent around a harmful addiction source.
- Find Non-addictive Replicas Of Your Addiction
A sex addiction might be overcome by joining a social club where you find a healthy friend to date. An alcohol addiction might be overcome by buying juice and fruit. A drug addiction might be overcome by fasting and eating good pasta afterward. A food addiction might be fixed by eating a filling food that is not high calories. Non-processed foods like beans, watermelon, lentils, and vegetables can help avoid food addiction.
- Accept The Fact That Change Hurts
Any positive change will require some pain to our preferences. This is a simple fact of life. However, a dramatic change that is too painful will discourage improvement. After gorging on hamburgers all day, it is hard to suddenly switch to not eating hamburgers at all. A moderate change would be only eating hamburgers once a week. Trying to find a road of moderate resistance is better than finding a road of such extreme resistance that you quit. Many people, when trying to quit an addiction, encounter extreme resistance, and then they quit because of the pain. Pick a path that is moderately challenging, and you will see improvement without overwhelming hurt.
Addictions can heal. It will hurt to heal it. It need not be overwhelmingly painful. Refusing to accept some pain to our preferences keeps us in an addicted state which harms our well-being.
Elliot Caleira is a freelance writer in the self-mastery and health and wellness spaces. When he's not writing you'll find him cooking or teaching Portuguese classes. Twitter: @elliotcaleira.