Addictions “Light” – Guidelines to help stay on track when giving something up

Everyone gets addicted to a substance or behaviour at some time in their lives. Nowadays there is even more temptation with E-mail, Facebook, online shopping, texting, etc. In addition to all the usual ones like alcohol, cigarettes, chocolate/sugar, work, gambling, TV, spending….But once we notice that a substance or behaviour is interfering with our relationships,  health, or some aspect of our lives, it becomes time to take back our control!

It can be challenging to break free from an addiction, so we have to plan for it!

  1. Once you have made a true decision, make a plan.
  2. What is your goal? What are you hoping to achieve and why?
  3. How are you going to do it? Are you going to “go Cold Turkey” or gradually? Are you going to consult a physician, a therapist or a support group, or stop with a friend, just go it alone?
  4. What are some activities you can turn to when you need a distraction? Exercise, cooking, reading, writing, music, painting….
  5. Think of NEW things you could do, that are interesting, healthy & fulfilling!
  6. Who are the people you can consult for support? i.e. friends, family, a therapist?
  7. Keep a log of your progress so you can look back when you need a boost. How do I feel today? What do I notice has changed for better or worse? What am I telling myself in my weak moments and in my stronger ones?
  8. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation techniques. Make an effort to breathe deeply from your diaphragm. Envision often what life is like with your goal attained.
  9. You may be tempted to sneak, but please remember, sneaking only hurts you and your progress. On some level you will feel badly about yourself, if you give in to temptation and have to start again, and you will have complex emotions if you are keeping secrets from the ones you love.
  10. You may put boundaries around people or places or things that tempt you, and just avoid those things at least for a while.
  11. Remind yourself often why you are stopping and what the goals and potential benefits are: better health, more energy, better marriage, more quality time with the kids, more money to spend on fun things like travel, etc.
  12. Be kind to yourself, encourage yourself by saying nice things in your mind, like what you would say to your best friend: “I know this is tough but we are just starting out, it will feel easier in a few days. Just hang in, you are doing great.”
  13. Be curious and open to the new and better ways you will feel.
  14. If your plan includes an end date, plan for your celebration of success, count down your days to that celebration.

In part II of this Blog I share a personal effort.

Stacy Bremner, MA, RP (Citizen of the world)

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