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glenjamin's avatar

What is the best [self-help] way to overcome an addiction or compulsive behavior pattern?

Asked by glenjamin (2497points) March 1st, 2011

Besides the obvious, being abstinance, what are some other helpful ways you can overcome an addiction or any self-destructive or self-defeating compulsive behaviors? Maybe some mental tricks you can use, or even a step-by-step process? What can be done by ones’ self, without resorting to therapy or counseling? Also, for the sake of yours truly, please no advice on turning to God or using religion, thanks.

The key here is to foster long-lasting behavior change, behaviors which are deeply rooted or ingrained can be tough to change without some kind of plan or mechanism (“just stop” is not good enough advice most of the time).

Please let me know if you have any experiences regarding this, or even websites or books you may have used.

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7 Answers

Austinlad's avatar

My only word of advice: don’t try to do it alone. Seek professional assistance.

Summum's avatar

In my experience addiction (though some may be physical) but the main reason for it is something within you. It really is not the Alcohol or substance or event it has to do with something in your life. The physical side of this is called withdrawal and is hard but the stopping use or doing the addiction again is the key. If you can find the story you tell yourself inside about things in your life that drew you to be addictive then you can overcome it immediately. Transformation happens on the spot and in the minute that you achieve it. It is amazing how very powerful we really are and once you see things for what they are you can then create a view of life without the addiction.

kevbo's avatar

I won’t claim this as a failsafe cure, but this book provides a lot of insight into the mental processes of an addicted personality. Most helpful to me is the diagram of “short circuited” thinking and behavior, where the addict experiences stress and turns to the addiction to medicate the stress rather than overcoming the stress by taking “healthy” actions. The result of this short circuit is the substitution of meaningful, life-affirming achievement with “quick fix” achievement. So, the effect of understanding this is waking up to the fact that the addictive behavior and “reward” cycle is sort of a false idol and shortchanges the addicted person out of other rewarding life experiences. The challenge for the addicted person is to imagine the possibility of meaningful pursuits and to learn and practice other responses to stress.

quarkquarkquark's avatar

Just stop.

Seriously, I had very bad OCD as a preteen and young teen, and in the absence of very much outside help, that was my only option. It is incredibly uncomfortable and painful, extremely emotionally stressful, but it will make you a stronger person. Don’t believe the bullshit about “needing” to do a compulsion or indulge an addiction. You can JUST STOP.

cloudvertigo's avatar

It depends on what your addiction is or what your self-destroying behaviors are. If it’s cigarettes switch brands – some are more addictive than others and it’s much easier to quit. Also, since your body is a closed system there are behaviors and addictions which support each other. It may be necessary to question multiple things in your life which are fostering one another to make the one seem like a much more staggering problem.

In general look around you and decide what is the result of your habit or your compulsion. Think back to how you behaved before this thing entered your life. Focus on the thoughts and behaviors that made you strong. Next begin clearing away the clutter and things which are associated with the negative behavior – be it actual clutter or the items which make it easier to sustain that habit. In this way you can strengthen the parts of you which are still there – the ‘you’ which you desire. Also you are making it more difficult to ‘see and remember’ to do this thing.

Another way of going about it: If you’ve been thinking about changing this thing for a while you have probably noticed certain things which seem to trigger or prevent your changing. Acknowledge these things as preventable (going to the pub for a drink) and know that, even though everything about them isn’t wrong, there may be some reassessment or changes on your part that can be made. Take a break from the environment or remove that thing from some place in your life – a sanctuary of sorts. After a break it will seem strange to get back into the same groove and the change you need to make will be easier, more controlled.

In closing, it’s not so much stopping one thing as starting something else or putting more emphasis on something you already do. By changing your environment you are also changing who you are in relation to the thing. It may be that you find that this is an ineffable part of you – something trite, laughable or even beloved by those around you. It may be that you should change with no delay. Like now. Right now. Not tomorrow. Now. Get it done. Do the other things which you’ve been putting off to do this other thing – look -things are getting better already! :)

Otherwise, the album Baby Darling Dollface Honey by Band of Skulls has a lot of the thoughts, the emotions I feel when I want to make a change—give it a listen.

Paradox1's avatar

You have to get to a point where you think cigarettes (or whatever) is pointless. You can use it as much as you want but you’ll realize it isn’t what you want. Give yourself some time to say that you’ll quit, just not yet – even have reckless abandon. After some time has passed you’ll see. You will come to a day when you realize it is pointless to continue. Then you’ll need to get rid of the stuff. But you’ll be ready. After that, every day not smoking puts you further and further away from your old self. The first week or two is extremely important. If you can make it that far, you won’t want to destroy that progress. You’re going to war with a part of you that you don’t want to exist anymore, it’s like losing an old friend. But be strong.

buster's avatar

Ive been to rehabs, churches, mental hospitals, and I hated them all. I used as soon as I got out. The best I have come at being clean is move a thousand miles away from your home to a beach. Last September I moved from Nashville Tennessee to Hollywood Beach Florida which is 20 miles north of Miami. I only knew one person there. I got a new phone number and deleted all my old drug buddies back home numbers. The weather was awesome. I went to the beach everyday. I ran. They have exercise bars at the beach. They have racquetball, volleyball, bike paths. fishing. I stayed busy. I stayed away from clubs and bars. I did occassionally drink a couple beers and smoked weed a couple times. ( i still slip up but rarely and not full on like I did after rehabs) But I felt so good I rarely craved or sought out drugs. I read lots of books and ate healthy food. I was trying to stay away from pills and powders which are everywhere but by staying active, exercising. and not going to clubs and the hood seeking drugs being clean got easier and easier. My swim bike ride reading on the beach eating healthy and looking and breathing better became my new drug. Delete your old party buddies, move to the beach, get active and you will feel fine in no time. I dont believe that AA once an addict always and addict. You have a choice. Be strong and do what is healthy. I have been slipping lately myself and am trying to get back on track.

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