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How To Break An Addiction That’s Been Holding Back Your Life

How to Break an Addiction That’s Been Holding Back Your Life

Is there an easy, fool-proof way to learn how to break an addiction? And when we say addiction, we’re not only talking about substance abuse or gambling addictions.

We’re also talking about other types of addiction. What about addiction to food, or maybe an addiction to sugar?

And these days, we can add another pervasive form of addiction to the list: addiction to social media.

Think about it.

Do you, or does anyone you know, have an addiction to social media? How about an addiction to TV?

Or perhaps the granddaddy of all addictions these days, an addiction to their phone? How on earth can you break an addiction to your phone when you carry it with you everywhere you go?   how to break an addiction, people texting during lunch

The Varied and Surprising Forms of Addiction

When we think of addiction, what usually comes to mind is an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Overcoming alcoholism or finding the strength to stop using drugs is anything but easy. That much is a given.

But the truth is, addictive behaviors can attach themselves to almost anything.

True, substance addictions happen because they affect the brain directly. But other addictions result from oft-repeated patterns that over time we find almost impossible to quit.

So the answer to what causes addiction is not as straightforward as you might think.

If a substance or action provides pleasure, the addicted brain will seek it out. That’s why addictions are so hard to break.

Addictions That Sabotage Your Happiness

Take a quick look at this list. Some of these types of addiction will be obvious. Others may never have crossed your mind.

how to break an addiction, ice cream cone

While this is not an all-inclusive list, it does provide a pretty good overview of some of the most common forms of addiction.

Simply put, addictive behavior takes control of, and negatively affects, your life. That’s incentive enough to want to learn how to break an addiction.

What Causes the Addicted Brain?

Before we get into learning how to break an addiction, you first need to understand what causes addiction in the first place. Determining the cause will help provide the key to breaking addictive behavior.

You probably already know that chemical changes in the brain from drugs or alcohol cause addiction. But there is growing evidence that a deeply ingrained habit, in itself, also influences the mind. This leads to increased cravings.

Increased cravings lead to addiction. It’s a vicious cycle.

The word “addiction” is derived from a Latin term for “enslaved by” or “bound to.” Anyone who has struggled to overcome an addiction—or has tried to help someone else to do so—understands why. Addiction exerts a long and powerful influence on the brain that manifests in three distinct ways: craving for the object of addiction, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences. For many years, experts believed that only alcohol and powerful drugs could cause addiction. Neuroimaging technologies and more recent research, however, have shown that certain pleasurable activities, such as gambling, shopping, and sex, can also co-opt the brain. (Helpguide.org, Understanding Addiction)

So while chemical factors do play a substantial role in the cause of addiction, there are other factors that make it hard to get rid of addictions.           how to break an addiction, freedom from chains

How do You Know if You Have an Addiction?

It’s likely you already know someone who suffers from addiction in some way. An alcoholic parent, spouse, family member, friend, or co-worker is depressingly familiar.

But what about you? Are you exhibiting some form of addictive behavior without realizing it?

Surely not, you say.

Well, I say, not so fast.

Is It Possible That You, Yourself, Must Learn How To Break An Addiction?

Look again at the list of addictions we’ve discussed. Do you spend hour upon hour on social media? Is your nose buried in your phone while out with friends or family?

Are you a sugar addict, such that you make jokes about it? You just can’t ever turn down that piece of cake or bowl of ice cream?

Any of these behaviors may be a sign that you have an addiction.

how to break an addiction

Shocking, isn’t it? Or maybe not.

Odds are good that you are aware of your behavior. You just weren’t thinking of it as harmful in any way. Certainly not an addiction. Perish the thought.

Is There Any Such Thing As A Harmless Addiction?

Any addiction, however harmless it may seem, might still be negatively affecting your life whether you’re aware of it or not.

For example, being engrossed in your phone in social settings is likely irritating friends and family, even if they don’t say so.

And even if your constant phone scrolling is not annoying anyone, you’re still missing out on what’s happening right in front of you.

Not good.

But the reality, especially for younger people, is that phone use, especially heavy use, isn’t so lighthearted. A study last month looked at the rise in depression and suicide in teenagers in recent years. The CDC had noted a rise in the rates of both over the years 2010-2015, and found that girls were particularly at risk: Their suicide rate rose by 65% in those five years. The number of girls with severe depression rose by 58%. (Alice G. Walton, Forbes, 2017, Phone Addiction is Real – And So Are Its Mental Health Risks).

And when it comes to a sugar addiction, while you may find yourself joking about it, it’s probably not doing much for the quality of your health.

The bottom line is if you are doing something, anything, you find it difficult to stop, then you may have an addiction.

Some Remarkably Simple Methods for Breaking Addiction

The good news is that if you are struggling to break an addiction, there are some surprisingly simple methods you can use to learn how to break a habit.

how to break an addiction, girl dancing in cityscape

Some of the easiest techniques to help you learn how to break an addiction are:

The reason for choosing one of these four methods is two-fold:

  1. Information and tools to help you get started are readily available online.
  2. You can practice them in the privacy of your own home.

Of course, depending on the severity and type of addiction you’re trying to overcome, it may be best to seek professional intervention. Alcohol and drug abuse likely fall in this category.

But if you’re merely trying to rid yourself of an annoying habit that’s adversely affecting your health or personal relationships, the news is good. There are plenty of online tools you can access online to get started.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the four listed methods for breaking addictions.

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a practice designed to alter your thinking and beliefs.

how to break an addiction, woman thinking, nature

Yes, you can visit a mental health professional to begin CBT, but it’s also something you can do at home with the proper tools and instruction.

CBT helps you identify events in your past that may have led you to develop an addictive behavior. Also, it teaches you to recognize triggers that lead to your harmful habit in the first place.

Once you’ve identified your triggers, you can take steps to alter your behavior. You may want to start a journal to record your feelings and responses.

Another option is to turn to an alternative activity until your mind shifts from your usual addictive response to something healthier.

When you combat an addiction by challenging your destructive inner voices, you strengthen your true self. You achieve a better balance that leaves you stronger in the face of destructive temptations and hurtful behaviors. Most importantly, you break free from any internal chains that hold you back from experiencing who you are at your fullest potential and actively pursuing what you aim to accomplish in your life. (Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., Psychology Today, 2012, Breaking Free From Addiction.)

It can take time to identify the cause of your addiction and patience while you train yourself to alter your reactions.

Like any habit, consistency and patience will find you gradually breaking habits and addictions that are holding you back. So hang in there. It will get easier.

2. Meditation and mindfulness

When it comes to overcoming negative behavior and learning how to break an addiction, meditation and mindfulness techniques can work wonders.

Meditation and mindfulness exercises help you learn how to break an addiction by replacing harmful habits with healthy ones.        how to break an addiction

Also, practicing meditation and mindfulness techniques increases your overall happiness and sense of well-being. I’m sure you will agree that that’s a pretty sweet side benefit.

Meditation also raises your level of self-awareness.

Being self-aware is practically a prerequisite to breaking an addiction. It’s hard to imagine a more beneficial practice to learn than meditation and mindfulness.

Before Zaccai Free, a District of Columbia resident, began meditating in college two decades ago, he had a very short fuse – to the point, he says, of wanting to commit acts of violence. Meditation taught him to recognize his own anger and become more detached from it. It cleared his mind and calmed him down, he says. Mostly, “it made me more comfortable in my own skin.” (Kristine Crane, The Huffington Post, 2017, 8 Ways Meditation Can Improve Your Life.)

Anything that makes you more comfortable in your own skin is bound to be helpful in learning how to break an addiction.

And there are plenty of tools readily available online to help you learn meditation and mindfulness right at home.

3. Hypnosis

Hypnosis is a powerful tool for retraining your mind and breaking free of undesirable behaviors and habits. And like meditation, it is easy to practice in the comfort of your home.how to break an addiction

And don’t worry. Your mind will not be taken over by some unseen force. You won’t find yourself wandering around in a daze or clucking like a chicken.

But what you will find is that the power of suggestion will help to retrain your thoughts and your mind to turn to more positive behaviors.

That need to reach automatically for your phone may disappear, or at least diminish, through the power of suggestion.

4. Subliminal programming

Subliminal programming is an effortless way of retraining your mind toward better choices and activities. This technique is one in which you tap into the power of positive affirmations in order to retrain your mind while listening to music in the background that contains the subliminal affirmations.

As you gradually retrain your mind through subliminal messages, you will begin to let go of bad habits that are holding you back.

When you look at each of these four methods for learning how to break an addiction, they all have one thing in common. Well, maybe more than one but one primary objective.

That is, they work to reform your thought processes and, in a sense, rewire your brain.

They teach you how not to be addicted.

And like meditation, mindfulness, and hypnosis, there are plenty of audio programs you can use to aid your practice.

how to break an addiction

It’s Easier Than You Think to Learn How To Break An Addiction

Hopefully, by now you understand that addictions take many forms. Some are highly destructive, like substance abuse. Others, at first glance, seem more benign.

But any behavior or habit that you find yourself unable to break free of, or that impacts your life in some negative way, is a form of addiction.

And it’s always a good thing to get rid of addictions.

No person or thing should have control over your mind but you.

Be it a phone, social media, sugar or food addiction, or something more damaging, the first step toward greater happiness and fulfillment is to learn how to break an addiction.

And the best news of all is that it’s not only possible, but it’s also easier than you think.

Do you have an addiction that you’d like to rid yourself of but haven’t known where to begin? Visit our online shop and browse our library for answers and tools to help you break addictions and form healthy, life-affirming habits.

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