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How to Overcome an Addiction

Three Parts:Deciding to QuitMaking a PlanQuitting and Handling Withdrawal

What's your addiction? Whether you're dealing with an addiction to alcohol, tobacco, sex, drugs, lying or gambling, admitting that you have a problem is always the first step to overcoming it, and it is not easy. Now it's time to make a plan for quitting, seek help, and prepare yourself for obstacles you'll surely encounter. If you want to learn how to kick that habit and start living life to the fullest again, keep reading.

If you or someone you love suffers from addiction and you need some advice, see the Additional Resources section at the bottom of this article for organizations that can help.

Part 1
Deciding to Quit

  1. Image titled Be a Smart Student Step 6
    Write down the harmful effects of your addiction.[1] It might not feel good to acknowledge all the ways in which your addiction is harming you, but seeing the list on paper will help you resolve to stop as soon as possible. Take out a pen and a piece of paper and brainstorm a list that includes all the negative effects you've experienced since your addiction started.
    • Think about how your addiction has affected your physical health. Are you at greater risk for getting cancer, heart disease, or another illness as a result of your addiction? Maybe the addiction has already taken a noticeable physical toll.
    • List the ways in which it has hurt you mentally. Are you embarrassed about your addiction? In many cases addictions lead to shame and embarrassment, as well as depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional issues.
    • How has your addiction affected your relationships with other people? Does it prevent you from spending time with people you love, or having enough time to pursue new relationships?
    • Some addictions take a big financial toll. List the amount of money you have to spend feeding your addiction every day, week and month. Determine whether your addiction has affected your job.
    • What daily annoyances are caused by your addiction? For example, if you're a smoker, maybe you're tired of having to leave your office every time you need to light up.
  2. Image titled Focus on Studies Step 10
    Make a list of positive changes you want in your life. Now that you've detailed all the negative effects of your addiction, think about how much your life will improve once you've kicked the habit. Create a picture of your life post-addiction. How do you want it to look?
    • Maybe you'll feel a sense of freedom you haven't had in years.
    • You'll have more time to spend on people, hobbies, and other pleasures.
    • You'll be able to save money again.
    • You know you're doing everything you can to stay healthy. You'll feel immediate physical improvements.
    • You'll feel proud and confident again.
  3. Image titled Conduct Research Step 22
    Write down your quitting commitment. Having a list of solid reasons to quit will help you stick to your plan in the long run. Your reasons for quitting must be more important to you than continuing your addictive behavior. This mental hurdle is tough, but it's a necessary first step to quitting any addiction. No one can make you quit but yourself. [2] Write down the true, solid reasons you're stopping this habit. Only you know what they are. Here are a few examples:
    • Decide you're quitting because you want to have energy to live life to the fullest again.
    • Decide you're quitting because you're running out of money to support your habit.
    • Decide you're quitting because you want to be a better partner to your spouse.
    • Decide you're quitting because you're determined to meet your grandchildren one day.

Part 2
Making a Plan

  1. Image titled Build Trust in a Relationship Step 6
    Set a date to quit. Don't set it for tomorrow, unless you're pretty sure quitting cold turkey will work for you. Don't set it for more than a month from now, because you might lose your resolve by then. Aim for a date in the next couple of weeks. This will give you enough time to become mentally and physically prepared.[3]
    • Consider picking a date that's meaningful to you, to help motivate you. Your birthday, father's day, your daughter's graduation day, etc.
    • Mark the day on your calendar and announce it to those close to you. Build it up so that you won't be likely to back down when the day arrives. Make a firm commitment to yourself that you're going to quit by that date.
  2. Image titled Convince Yourself Not to Commit Suicide Step 3
    Seek personal and professional support. It might not seem like it now, but you're going to need all the support you can get during your journey to overcome addiction. Because so many people battle addictions, there are many wonderful institutions in place that serve as support systems, helping you stay motivated, providing tips for success, and encouraging you to try again if you have a false start.
    • Research in-person and online support groups designed to help people with the specific type of addiction you're battling. Many resources are free.
    • Make an appointment with a therapist skilled in helping people through addictions. Find someone you're comfortable with so you'll be able to rely on him or her in the months to come. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), behavioral therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Gestalt techniques and life skills training are amongst the techniques that have been proven successful for those seeking to overcome addictions. A therapeutic setting ensures that you will have privacy and that the treatment will be based on your particular needs and goals.
    • Seek support from your closest loved ones and friends. Let them know how much this means to you. If you're addicted to a substance, ask them not to use it in your presence.
  3. Image titled Write a Grant Proposal Step 5
    Identify your triggers.[4] Everyone has a certain set of triggers that make them automatically want to indulge their habits. For example, if you're struggling with an alcohol addiction, you might find it difficult to attend a certain restaurant without feeling a strong urge to drink. If you're addicted to gambling, passing a casino on the way home from work might make you feel compelled to stop. Knowing your triggers will help you face them down when the time comes to quit.
    • Stress is often a trigger for all kinds of addictions.
    • Certain situations, like parties or other social gatherings, might act as triggers.
    • Certain individuals can be triggers.
  4. Image titled Drink Responsibly Step 22
    Start ramping down your addictive habit. Instead of quitting immediately, start by decreasing your use. For most people, this makes it easier to quit. Indulge less frequently, and gradually continue reducing it as your day to quit for good approaches.
  5. Image titled Help Save the Environment Step 36
    Get your environment ready. Remove reminders of your addiction from your home, car and workplace. Get rid of all the objects that goes along with the habit, as well as other items that remind you of the habit.[5]
    • Consider replacing the objects with items that help you feel positive and calm. Fill your refrigerator with wholesome food. Treat yourself to a few good books or DVDs (provided they don't contain content that could act as a trigger). Place candles and other aesthetically pleasing items around the house.
    • You might want to try redecorating your bedroom, rearranging the furniture, or just buying a few new throw pillows. Changing your environment will give you the feeling of having a fresh start.

Part 3
Quitting and Handling Withdrawal

  1. Image titled Keep Healthy Step 11
    Stop the addictive behavior as planned. When the big day arrives, keep your promise to yourself and quit. Those first few days are going to be hard. Keep yourself busy and stay positive. You're on your way to an addiction-free life.
  2. Image titled Keep Healthy Step 13
    Fill your time. If you need distractions, try exercising, taking up a new hobby, cooking, or hanging out with friends. Joining a new club, sports team, or other kind of community group will help you make new friends and start a new chapter of your life in which addiction is not a part. Positive social interactions can stimulate the release of neurochemicals which elicit feelings of happiness and satisfaction without the need for drugs.
    • Exercise releases endorphin chemicals like the ones released in addiction, which is why sometimes you'll hear the term "runner's high".[6] Exercise could open a lot more windows for new and improved health and could lessen the blow of withdrawal by giving you something else to feel good about.
  3. Image titled Become Sociable Step 7
    Keep clear of your triggers. Stay away from the people, places and things that make you want to go back to your old habits. You might need to construct a completely new routine for awhile, until the edge wears off a bit.
  4. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Work Out Step 6
    Don't give in to rationalizations. The physical and mental pain of addiction withdrawal is real, and you'll likely start telling yourself it's okay to take up the habit again. Don't listen to the voice telling you to start back up and don't give up on yourself when it feels hard. Every bit of pain will be worth it in the end.
    • Common rationalizations include the idea that "it's a free country" or "we all have to die sometime." Resist taking on this defeatist attitude.
    • Go back to your list of reasons for quitting to remember why you're doing this. Think about why quitting is more important than staying addicted.
    • Visit support groups and your therapist each time you feel in danger of relapsing.
  5. Image titled Drink Responsibly Step 6
    Don't let a relapse be the end of your journey. Everyone slips up from time to time. That doesn't mean you should give in and return to your addictive habits in a full-blown relapse. If you have a slip up, go back over what happened and determine what changes you can make if it happens again. Then get back on your feet and start again.
    • Don't let guilt and shame take over if you slip up. You're trying your best, and all you can do is keep at it.
  6. Image titled Enjoy Each Day Step 14
    Celebrate your accomplishments. Do something nice for yourself when you meet the goals you've made, no matter how small. Kicking an addiction is incredibly tough work, and you deserve to be rewarded.

Additional Resources

Organization Phone Number
Alcoholics Anonymous (212) 870-3400
National Council on Problem Gambling (800) 522-4700
SAMHSA (Substance Abuse) (800) 662-4357
Sexual Addicts Anonymous (800) 477-8191
Marijuana Anonymous (800) 766-6779
S.A.F.E. Alternatives (800) DONT-CUT


  • Keeps your mind occupied with constructive thoughts.
  • Even if you have a bad day, don't give up and think you can't overcome your addiction.
  • Start a project that interests you.
  • Drop your prejudices and have an open mind.
  • Plan a complete schedule for how will you spend your day.
  • Some people find that meditation can help a lot.
  • Follow suggestions given to you by others. How many you get will vary but most therapists expect you to do some homework and the traditional suggestion for 12 Step newcomers is to get a home group, find a sponsor and work the Steps.
  • Stay away from things that remind you of your addiction and think about the consequences rather than the pleasures. If you follow it, you will be reminded of the pleasures.
  • Focus on things that matter. Don't always keep your mind on addiction. Go somewhere with friends, do a hobby, do something to distract you from your addiction.
  • Don't stop fighting for yourself. This process in your life will be tough, but at the end you'll feel an entirely different version of yourself that you worked hard for.
  • Tell yourself using your addiction for escapism from your addiction is a easy excuse and you're lying to yourself.
  • Remember that what you do does not only affect you alone but others too.
  • Do things you are good at when you are tempted to return to your old addiction. (i.e. If you are addicted to smoking, but you enjoy playing the guitar, strum your guitar when you want to smoke).


  • Be careful when things start to get better. You may be one of the many addicts who sabotage themselves when things are going well.
  • Recognize the signs indicating that you could be in treacherous territory. Avoid those particular times in the day when you feel most compelled to succumb to your addiction. You need to remain strong through these especially periods of intense craving.

Article Info

Categories: Addictions