Help! I am an Addict: 10 Ways to Get your Addiction Under Control

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If you are worried about your drug or alcohol use, help is available. Professional addiction treatment programs can help you get your addiction under control. But while you research your rehab options, you can also explore these 10 tips to help you achieve control of your addiction and start on the path to recovery.

In this article: 

1. Find Acceptance

Before you can gain addiction control, you must accept your past mistakes and understand that your current relationship with drugs or alcohol is just temporary—just by researching tips and treatment, you are already moving toward a healthier and drug-free future.

Why is acceptance so important? Acknowledging existing conditions is a key portion of mindfulness practice. And research reveals that mindfulness plays a major role in improving your self-control. Especially when it comes to your ability to make decisions and change automatic habits, two areas that are key to achieving addiction control.1

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2. Plan a SMART Change (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound)

If your goal is to achieve addiction control, you’ll need to make a very specific plan for how you’ll get to that point. Start by determining your goal: is it total abstinence from alcohol or drugs? Then, take a close look at your current resources—friends, family, or even rehab specialists you can call—to see how you can begin your plan right now.

Next, write down your goal. And include specific actions—like inquiring about rehab programs—that you’ll commit to taking within a specified period. Now, try sharing your plan with a friend—this adds accountability to your action plan. Finally, commit to sending weekly updates to your friend, family member, or support person. Research suggests that people who take all five of these steps are more likely to achieve their goals.2

When your goal is to get control of addiction, adding a support person to your team could be the most important element of your plan.

3. Build a Team

When you’re working towards addiction control, you’ll need people in your corner. These could be family members or trusted friends—people you can turn to when you need to talk or stay strong in the face of drug or alcohol cravings. Research reveals that having supportive relationships can help you achieve better treatment results when you get help for addiction.3 Moreover, having a strong support network can help you find the courage to enter and complete an addiction treatment program.4

So, if you’re hoping to get lasting control over addiction, finding a supportive friend, family member, or treatment specialist could help you take major steps toward recovery. If you aren’t sure where to find a support system, you can always check out Narcotics Anonymous meetings near you. NA meetings provide you with fellowship, encouragement, and guidance throughout recovery.

4. Focus on Nutrition

If you’ve been struggling with addiction, other areas of your health may have suffered. Many people who struggle with addiction are severely undernourished.5 Then, if you enter detoxification for drug or alcohol misuse, you may lose your appetite. This could further impact your body’s nutritional stores.6 For that reason, even before you’re ready to begin a medical detox and supervised rehab program, focusing on healthier food choices could help prepare you for the road to addiction control.6

5. Tap Into Your Feelings

If you struggle with addiction, negative feelings or experiences can act as triggers for you to relapse. When you seek help for addiction, your treatment will likely include talk therapy, which can help you change your reactions to stressful situations.7 It may be hard to change ingrained reactions without professional help, but simply identifying your natural reaction to stressful situations can be helpful. When you begin treatment, you’ll be able to discuss the responses that both help and hurt you. This should make it easier to work on leaving harmful reactions in your past.

During this step, it’s important to note both the positive and negative triggers that influence your drug or alcohol misuse. Attending a party with friends could leave you feeling like you have to drink to be part of the fun, or confrontations with family members could cause you to seek comfort in a certain substance. By tracking your own patterns, you can start to overcome them once you begin treatment for substance misuse.

6. Dig Deep

Once you’ve noted your triggers, you can begin to explore why those situations are so triggering for you. When you ask yourself questions, you may begin to identify certain feelings that come up during those triggering moments. Later, you can begin to work on responding to those feelings in healthier ways.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often a helpful treatment option when you seek help for addiction. CBT uses the ABCD approach to stop the trigger-substance misuse cycle. This method follows these steps:8

  • You identify the activating event, or in other words, your trigger.
  • Next, you explore your beliefs about that trigger. This helps you understand that it’s not the trigger that makes you struggle with drugs or alcohol, but your feelings that come to mind during that event or incident.
  • Next, explore consequences. Specifically, this step addresses the emotional consequences you experience when you give way to beliefs about your triggers.
  • Finally, you’ll learn to dispute or fight your own beliefs with statements that counter your old reactions.

This is an advanced form of therapy that typically requires the help of a professional. Still, beginning on your own will help you better understand the root cause of your feelings. It can also give you some tools to counter old beliefs that contribute to your struggle with drugs or alcohol. In that way, you’ll grow one step closer to addiction control.

7. Find What You Love

Whether or not it’s an official trigger for you, boredom often leads to struggles with drug or alcohol misuse. When you don’t know what to do with yourself, it may feel simpler to turn to substances than to find a way forward.

Instead of fighting boredom with drugs or alcohol, exploring what you love can be a powerful way to gain control over addiction. Imagine waking up to a day where you know you’ll be painting a new landscape or trying to add 10 minutes to a daily run. Both of those goals would be difficult to accomplish if you turn to substance abuse.

According to research, replacing your substance addiction with a positive endeavor, like a running routine, can be an effective deterrent to relapse.9 So, by finding something you love to do, you can choose a healthier alternative to substance use. And help yourself commit to staying sober.

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8. Say Some Goodbyes

You’ve already learned that finding supportive friends or family will help you take control over addiction. It’s important to look for the relationships that will help you seek treatment and maintain your sobriety. It’s equally important to understand that certain people in your life may trigger your substance cravings or use.10

One of the first steps you can take after acknowledging your struggle with drugs or alcohol is to stay away from the friends that encourage your substance use or trigger you. Whether they join you in abusing substances or simply trigger feelings that leave you seeking comfort, those people will make it difficult to control addiction. That’s why you’ll need to say goodbye to these relationships, or at least severely limit interactions.10

9. Keep Track of It All

Finding addiction control is a lifelong journey, and keeping a journal of your progress can help you along the way. Right now, you can start writing down some of your feelings. You can take note of your triggers and explore the feelings that surround them.

Over time, as you look back over old entries, you’ll be able to track your progress. You can identify areas where you’ve enjoyed success, and you can also notice areas where you still struggle and need additional support.

When done daily, journaling can be an important part of mindfulness practice. Plus, research proves that expressive writing can help you avoid intrusive thoughts about negative events.11 When you’re struggling with addiction, keeping a journal can offer additional support in your journey towards recovery by helping you to stop thinking about your former addictive habits.

After all, when you’ve avoided talking about your struggles for so long, it can feel very difficult to begin opening up now. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can provide an easier way to open up. In fact, later on, you may choose to share some journal entries with trusted therapists or treatment specialists. Having a written record will help you recall and overcome feelings you must address to gain control over addiction.

10. Ask for Help

The best and most lasting tool for overcoming addiction is to seek professional help for drug or alcohol misuse. There are several types of treatment, including inpatient, residential, and outpatient; the right program for you will depend on your needs and priorities. Joining a recovery support group is also helpful. The evidence is clear: people who seek help for addiction are frequently able to return to productive lives, rejoin their families, and gain control over addiction.12

Of course, on your recovery journey, you may face relapse, and that is normal. Statistics show that addiction relapse rates hover around 40% to 60%. However, these rates are lower than those for people living with chronic conditions such as asthma or hypertension.12 You likely know many people who live full lives while managing those conditions.

After you start working toward your goal of addiction control, you may face a few obstacles along the way. With the help of a professional treatment program, you’ll be prepared to prevent or bounce back from relapses and regain control of your life. Call (800) 407-7195(Who Answers?) today and speak to an addiction specialist about how to start your journey.


Resources

  1. Garland, E. L., & Howard, M. O. (2018). Mindfulness-based treatment of addiction: current state of the field and envisioning the next wave of research. Addiction science & clinical practice, 13(1), 14.
  2. Matthews, G. (n.d.). Goals Research Summary.
  3. Hanlon, T. E., Nurco, D. N., Bateman, R. W., & O’Grade, K. E. (1998). The response of drug abuser parolees to a combination of treatment and intensive supervision. The Prison Journal, 78(1), 31–44.
  4. Kelly, S. M., O’Grady, K. E., Schwartz, R. P., Peterson, J. A., Wilson, M. E., & Brown, B. S. (2010). The relationship of social support to treatment entry and engagement: the Community Assessment Inventory. Substance Abuse, 31(1), 43–52.
  5. Morabia, A., Fabre, J., Chee, E., Zeger, S., Orsat, E., & Robert, A. (1989). Diet and opiate addiction: a quantitative assessment of the diet of non-institutionalized opiate addicts. British Journal of Addiction, 84(2), 173–180.
  6. Neale, J., Nettleton, S., Pickering, L., & Fischer, J. (2012). Eating patterns among heroin users: a qualitative study with implications for nutritional interventions. Addiction (Abingdon, England), 107(3), 635–641.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Behavioral Therapies.
  8. Menon J, Kandasamy A. Relapse prevention. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 2018;60(Suppl 4):S473-S478. doi:10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_36_18
  9. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association. (2019). ANGER MANAGEMENT for Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Clients A Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy Manual.
  10. Falkin, G. P., & Strauss, S. M. (2003). Social supporters and drug use enablers: a dilemma for women in recovery. Addictive Behaviors, 28(1), 141–155.
  11. Klein, K., & Boals, A. Expressive writing can increase working memory capacity. (2001). Journal of Experimental Psychology General, 130(3):520-33. doi: 10.1037//0096-3445.130.3.520. PMID: 11561925
  12. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). How effective is drug addiction treatment?

the Take-Away

If you struggle with addiction, know that there a number of things you can do to begin recovery. The most important task is to choose a professional treatment program.