Overcoming an addiction isn’t easy, whether your vice is gambling, drugs, drink or something else. To stop for any length of time takes hard work. Stopping doesn’t always mean the hard work is over, and temptation can often still be there. However, there are ways to combat the cravings.
While it’s recommended to surround yourself with people who will support and encourage you, it’s also advisable to seek therapy. Friends and family have your best interests at heart, but don’t always know the best thing to say or do. An online therapy app, such as Relief Seeker, allows you to find professional help based on your individual needs. So, whenever you feel yourself struggling with temptation, or just need to talk things through with someone, help isn’t far away.
Reminding yourself why you stopped
Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself how your addiction was affecting you and why you stopped. Perhaps you were struggling to pay bills because you gambled and lost more money than you could afford or drinking too much was spilling over into your work life and personal relationships. It’s important to remind yourself of this when temptation tells you just a small bet or one glass of your favorite tipple won’t hurt. While the psychology of addiction is complicated, addicts generally can’t stop at ‘just one’ of their vice. Addiction can often lead to anxiety, so this is another reason not to give in.
Looking at what you’ve achieved
If stopping your addiction has led to better health, more money, better relationships or an improved work life; writing a list of achievements as a result of stopping, can enforce your willpower. There might be other smaller achievements too, which are just as important. Weigh these up against the initial buzz of giving in to your addiction (and the inevitable downside afterwards). Writing a list can be helpful. If you keep this list where you’re likely to see it when you’re tempted, that could help strengthen your resolve. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
Finding other things to do
Distracting yourself from any withdrawal symptoms or temptations may work for you. If you can find something you enjoy doing, such as sports, crafts or learning a new language – as well as the benefits of your new hobby or interest, you’ll be keeping your mind off thoughts of your addiction. This may not be immediate, but when you find yourself ‘in the zone’ there’s a good chance your mind will only be focused on achieving your personal best 5k run, getting your latest pottery creation just right, learning a phrase in your chosen language or anything else related to your chosen hobby. If you can find something that works just as well in a group, you’ll be able to surround yourself with people you share a healthy interest with. If you have friends who are still struggling with an addiction, while it’s admirable to want to help them, surrounding yourself with people who might add to your temptation isn’t healthy. You won’t be able to help them if you’re struggling to help yourself.
Spotting a pattern
Keeping a record of when you’ve come close to giving in to your addiction or have suffered the most with withdrawal symptoms, can help you spot a pattern. If you go out with friends for a meal and they enjoy a few drinks, it can be tempting to give in if alcohol is your addiction. Likewise, gambling on a night out at raffle or charity bingo might seem harmless to your friends but could be too much of a temptation for you. Knowing what sets you off helps you avoid those situations. You might have to explain to friends why you can’t join them or, for example, you have to leave a restaurant after one course before they start drinking. Most people should be understanding.
Sometimes, even friends who care about you might struggle to grasp the seriousness if they haven’t experienced addiction for themselves. Even if they have, they might compare their own situation to yours, failing to recognize everyone’s experience is different. Walking away from trigger situations might be the only option. Hopefully, your friendships will survive this, but if not, remember you have to do what is best for you.
Following these suggestions while seeking professional help and getting support from family or friends can help to combat your addiction and increase the chances of not giving in when temptation strikes.