I have been addicted to just about everything, and have quit these addictions because of one primary reason; I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Granted, I found tools that worked and helped me along the way, but the thing that stopped the addiction wasn’t AA, a patch, advice from friends and family, or a divorce. It was something inside me; a true exhaustion from the up and down of the addiction itself, a total darkness before a new light.
There are really no miracle cures for anything. There are tools that can help you overcome challenges in getting there, but the only thing that can truly make you stop something is yourself. And then by surrounding yourself with people and things that support that type of healthy vs. unhealthy behavior. I do think it is difficult for each and every person.
For example, I am not a personal fan of AA. I went to the meetings, but hated standing up every meeting and saying ‘I am an alcoholic’. I kind of felt right off the bat I was creating some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.
And the fact that I was powerless over my disease. I didn’t agree with that, either, because I had the power to check myself in to rehab, go to AA meetings, look at myself in the mirror (faults and all), take medications to help cure the addiction, or live in a place where alcohol did not exist. So I had the power, I just chose not to use it at the time, again my choice and an indication just how sick and tired I was of being sick and tired.
I’ve read the actual rate of remission of people who are in AA is about equal to those that spontaneously quit alcohol. I’m not sure what is true – statistics can be misleading and it is difficult to determine cause and effect. I applaud those that use AA because it works for them, and for those that find it doesn’t, I encourage you to keep searching until you find out what does because what I do know is true, is that when you find your solution you will be able to stop.
The things that I have found repeatedly that help me get over my addictions include:
- Taking the personal responsibility for my addiction to the behavior, and the unhealthy consequence it is having on my life.
- substituting that negative behavior with positive ones, including; yoga, exercise, meditation, working, writing, animals, creativity, connecting with people, prayer, doing good things for others, going to church, apologizing, naps, and total self-acceptance.
- Medication that helps me remain stable and present enough to engage in those positive behaviors.
- Reconciling my past with the present – fully integrating emotional triggers from childhood into present day experiences – and understanding why I am triggered and how I can regulate those emotions in a positive way as opposed to wanting to escape them.
- Holding myself accountable for my behaviors, and being totally honest with MYSELF first about how / why I do them. Honesty with others comes through time, trust, and their reaction to my honesty.
- Surrounding myself with people who support those behaviors. And for those that don’t, communicate the need I have for them to support the behaviors, and if they refuse, set boundaries with them to protect myself for remaining true to my behaviors.
- Being ok about being in relationships with others that do not practice those same behaviors; I find totally accepting others for who they are / where they are also helps me accept myself and become a stronger person.
- Having core people in my life that truly want what is best for ME, not in any way, shape, or form adding me to their life so they can feel better about themselves.
- Trying to keep to the rule – “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. It often means I am boring and don’t talk at all. And I feel boring and lots of people think I am boring. I’m learning how to be OK with that boringness and find and give love where I am able to do so.
Fear ultimately drives us to addictions, and so much of our fear is irrational fear. Coming to terms with that fear, and finding ways to replace it with unconditional love for both ourselves and others, is the thing that will ultimately free us all from addiction.
What scares you? How do you feel loved? What makes you feel temporarily good vs. intrinsically good?