How to Beat Addiction
How to Beat Addiction by Addressing the Root Cause
Are You Wondering How to Beat Addiction?
The beginning of January is a time when many of us are looking for ways to let go of old habits and destructive patterns. If you’re struggling and wondering how to beat addiction, this desire might lie even closer to your heart.
It may not feel like it, but change is possible. Healing from addiction is a journey, and, as in any other journey, there will be some rough patches as well as high roads. It might take time and effort, but it can be done.
The most important thing is - you don’t have to go through addiction recovery alone.
Asking for help is one of the most important parts of healing. Whether it’s a doctor, a friend, a therapist or an ex-addict who’s been through it, other people can be there for you and guide you along the way.
Getting to the Root Cause of Your Addiction
The truth is, no one plans to get addicted. It’s a problem that grows with time and usually begins when you're looking for ways to cope or escape from situations and issues in your life. Addiction is not just about the substance you use. It's about why you use it.
Further more, addictions don't always involve substances. You can become addicted to almost anything. Money, sex, TV, shopping and even your mobile phone, all have the potential to become addictive if being used in the wrong way.
But why is this? Well, just as when you ingest certain drugs or alcohol, the chemical that is responsible for the pleasure effect in your brain, dopamine, is activated by these events.
The rewarding effect of dopamine is so strong, that even pain or other dire consequences aren't enough to deter an addict.
Even studies on rats, have shown that even a painful electrical shock was not enough to deter them from collecting a hit of cocaine.
Any repeated behaviour or use of a substance that a person becomes dependant upon, or feels unable to stop despite negative impacts on health and life, could be considered an addiction.
World renowned trauma and addiction researcher, Dr. Gabor Maté, breaks the definition into 3 areas:
- Craving a substance or behaviour
- Engaging in the substance or behaviour seeking pleasure or relief from pain
- Inability to give the substance or behaviour up
Healing the brain, detoxifying your body and making lifestyle changes are all an important parts of addiction recovery and shouldn’t be skipped. But there is one thing that can get overlooked - and that’s addressing the root cause of your addiction—the reason why you got addicted in the first place.
There is still a lot of stigma around addiction. Many people think it is down to bad life choices or a lack of willpower, which admittedly do play a part. However, it's much less a roll of the dice which determines whether you get hooked or not.
More often, it is down to the experiences you've had in your early life that make you more predisposed to addiction.
“The addiction is not the problem itself; it is the solution to a much deeper malaise, usually trauma.” ~ Dr. Gabor Mate
Why People Get Addicted
People develop addictions for all sorts of reasons. For some it can be wanting an escape from pain or self-loathing, and for others it might be to feel more confident.
If you feel you are dependent on a substance or behaviour, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
What initially made you turn to alcohol, drugs, overspending, gambling or even porn? What was so appealing about it? Was there a hole you were trying to fill or pain too sharp for you to handle? Or did you just want to fit in? Whatever the reason is for you, the chances are that the original issue is still there, unresolved.
I’m sure you know at least one person who gained weight shortly after quitting smoking. It’s because they simply traded cigarettes for food. They still need to tackle the original problem. In this sense, addictions can be like crutches.
They can help you walk, but they won’t fix your broken leg. If you remove the crutches but don’t work on healing the leg, how hard do you think it will be to resist the crutches?
Finding your root cause and a solution that’s fit for you will take some time and inner work, but it’s worth it. It’s one of the best guarantees for a successful long-term recovery. It’s best to work with a therapist who will help you sift through your pain and trauma safely.
For example, a hypnotherapist can help you make peace with your past and present self while leading you through your unconscious mind. This way, you can get better insight and understanding of your emotions.
My Experience with Addiction
I grew up with parents who were addicted to heroin and other substances, so I was born into that world. It was messy. I never knew what to expect next. Feelings of safety were almost non-existent, and problems were rarely solved. Addiction consumed my parents, and, in the end, it consumed me too.
As a teen, I dropped out of school and gave in to partying. Whenever and wherever. I would get high or get drunk, dance my body off, dull all the feelings inside–well, at least for a while. And then, after I came down from the high, I’d quickly jump back into the vicious cycle before reality got the chance to pummel me down again.
Addiction is tricky because it messes with your brain. The chemistry goes haywire, and suddenly you have urges and cravings you can’t control.
All the stuff that previously gave you joy now seems dull. It’s because everyday activities can no longer satisfy the dopamine cravings of an addicted brain. This is why it’s so easy to go back to the addiction, and also why it is so hard to quit.
Beating Addiction Doesn't Need to Be Easy, Just Possible
Quitting addiction was a long road for me. I mean, back then, I never really experienced life without addiction. I was born into it, raised by it, and grew up within it. It was part of who I was. But over the years, having lost my dad and some of my dearest friends to addiction. The reality started to dawn on me, and I knew I couldn't go on living that way.
I didn’t see it as much of a choice at that point. Either I could continue going down that slippery slope to ruin, or I could fight for my life and my future. Even though the anxiety I felt when having to face reality without the numbing effects of drugs was so high, I knew it I had to pull myself out of the hole I'd been living in. So I said: f*ck it! I have to at least try!!
It wasn't an easy road, and it took many twists and turns of denial and failure for me. But with the support of a few good therapists along the way, I managed to come out on the other side. And I know that if I can do it then you can too!
What we understand about addiction now is much more than we did back then. By working though some of the trauma in my early life, I inevitably became less dependent on drugs and alcohol.
But now that we know that trauma is one of the main contributing factors to addiction, it can help us to get straight to the root cause.
A Fresh Start
Starting anew after addiction can be exciting, but also full of challenges.
You see, addiction is like a giant octopus. At first it presents itself as a friendly aide or welcome distraction. It keeps your eyes on the prize and, before you know it, its clever tentacles have seduced almost every aspect of your life. Your relationships, self-esteem, finances, reputation, productivity etc. Soon you start seeing it all slipping down the drain, along with your health and vitality.
This is why addiction has to be tackled in different ways and with different tools. Support groups, psychotherapy, medication, hypnotherapy, lifestyle and dietary changes all have their place in the process in how to beat addiction.
There is even a growing body of research into the use of psychedelic and plant medicine use in addiction recovery. And this is something you may feel could work for you too.
However, there is no one size fits all approach. And it will take as long as it takes for you.
When talking about how to beat addiction, each person’s story is different. Your path won’t be the same as mine. So you have to continuously sift through what’s working for you and what isn’t.
The first step to battling addiction is always recognising that there is a problem. So if you’re aware of this, you’ve already started on your path to healing.
The second step is asking for help and getting it. And I don’t mean once. I mean, ask for it every time you feel like it’s too much.
But, when you feel ready, don't forget to tackle your root cause. Face it, embrace it, heal it and find your freedom.
Get in Touch to Find Out How to Beat Addiction with Hypnotherapy
If you'd like to discuss how I can help you, or you'd like to find out how to beat addiction using Cognitive Hypnotherapy. Please book a free 30 minute consultation or get in touch with me via my Connect page.
I look forward to working with you!