The realisation that you have become an addict is a difficult one but it is also the essential first step to getting better.
Although some addicts manage to keep their life relatively together and function well, more often than not substance dependence will have cost them their family, their friends, their jobs and their health. More often than not again, they were aware of the destruction their addiction was sowing, they could see their health failing and, for hard drugs addiction, knew that it could kill them. In some instances, they might have tried to quit and found it either completely impossible or, in other cases, their victory was temporary and they found themselves hopelessly drawn back into their old behaviour. So what makes addiction so difficult to beat once and for all?
Something So Good Can’t be That Bad
Whatever your addiction is, gambling, drugs, smoking, alcohol, it helps you cope with life and gives you a rush. Where substance abuse is concerned, the psychological satisfaction is reinforced by very powerful physical sensations and chemical dependence.
Quitting means leaving what you are comfortable with, willingly stepping into a world with no “reward” until you have rebuilt your life, very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and possibly having to fight temptation for a long time if not for the rest of your life.
Even though the prospect of having a chance to get your life back in order is a strong motivation, it is not difficult to see why overcoming addiction is so tough and why there are relapses.
I’ll Cut Back
Because the chemical dependence is so hard to face, addicts will sometimes attempt to quit gradually. However, the psychology of addiction is such that this strategy is bound to fail. An alcoholic can’t have “just one drink” for example. They have to keep drinking until they are physically unable to.
As hard as it may be, you have to stop completely and forever and recognise that your addiction is one of your limitations. You won’t be able to control it so don’t put yourself in temptation’s path.
Getting Re-acquainted With Yourself
One of the great appeals of addiction is that it lowers inhibitions. It created a new You, possibly more confident, funnier. It also allowed you to escape from whichever situations drew you to it in the first place.
Once you have committed to quitting, you will have to get to know the good old You again, as well as face whatever you were unsettled by again.
In addition, your friends will have to adjust to who you are when you are not under the influence. You may find that friendships built while you were an addict are not as profound as you thought and people may drift away. Co-dependency can also play an important role in holding you back: that is that your friends, even if they mean well, subconsciously want you to stay an addict because they are used to see you with that persona and they don’t want to see the dynamics of their relationship with you change.
Seeing your social network suddenly shift as you try to quit is certainly very destabilising and is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to give up without professional addiction counselling.
Too Much Time on Your Hands
One of the characteristics of addiction is that, as it takes over someone’s life, the addict spends more and more time involved in the addictive behaviour, which becomes the sole focus of their life.
So once you give up your addiction, what are you going to do with all that time? You may still be very busy at first dealing with withdrawal, but once this is a little bit more under control, all that seems to present to you is a vast expanse of nothingness, and without a purpose, it is easy to see how you could fall back into your old habits and this is why addiction therapy will be so important to keep you on track.
Quitting is a huge undertaking, and nobody should underestimate how challenging it is. Addictions are often a way to avoid dealing with deeply-rooted psychological issues, and treating the dependence will only scratch the surface and will lead to relapses.
If you have tried to quit in the past and have failed, you may also feel defeated before you have even started. This is why quitting should always be supported by professionals, of the body and the mind, to help you work through your issues and build healthy foundations for your recovery.
If you think you, or someone you know, is struggling with giving up their addiction and need ongoing support, contact Robert Street Clinic or call us on 09 973 5950. We offer affordable counselling in Auckland, with professionals specialised in addiction treatment.