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5 Tips for Overcoming Addiction



Before you get the idea that this article is an all-encompassing answer to overcoming substance abuse, know that it’s not. Substance abuse can be one of the greatest challenges of a lifetime, and it often takes a lifetime to recover from. That said, with the strategies outlined here, plus faith, discipline, and perseverance, you can overcome this illness. Though the journey is a hard one, it is worth it for you to get well. That’s true not just for you but also for your friends and family.

Build a Solid Support System

Typically the first, and often most immediately impactful, step in overcoming substance abuse is to build a solid support system around you. Often, people who struggle with drugs and alcohol either feel alone or are alone, and that makes it hard to recover. It’s like a downward spiral of loneliness and shame. The more alone you feel, the more you want to use, and then you feel ashamed for using, and then you use again. Breaking that cycle is critical.

Your support system should include professional help in the form of a mental health rehab or other therapeutic outlet. Having a licensed psychologist or counselor by your side — offering concrete steps, solutions, and guidance — is crucial for your growth. You’ll also want a support group of people in similar situations to empathize with you. Having people around you who are experienced with what you’re going through helps break that loneliness cycle.

Let Go of Toxic Relationships

While you surround yourself with positive, uplifting, people who are headed in the right direction, you also need to let go of the toxic ones. It can be heartbreaking and even feel cold at times, but your recovery will be so much harder if you’ve got people in your life still using. You’ll also have to let go of people who enable your substance abuse. A huge part of changing your life involves changing your environment, and removing toxic people is part of that shift.

Create a Solid Structure

Often, when you begin to use, the structure of your life, if you had one in place, begins to fall apart. Then, as use turns into abuse, it feels as though chaos ensues. Days begin to blend, up is down, down is up, and time seems meaningless. Indeed, life feels meaningless unless you’re using drugs, which is what leads to abuse — it’s never enough. Once you get on the road to recovery, you need to re-establish structure.

Structure and order in your life helps keep you on the straight and narrow because you have predictability to rely on when you feel like straying. Establish a routine that includes meal times at the same time every day and rising and going to bed at the same times. Also integrate daily exercise into your life, which you can use as an outlet for your addictions. Instead of using, hit the gym or take a yoga class. There, you may also make friends with healthy habits.

Establish Purpose in Your Life

A common refrain of people who find themselves abusing drugs is that they find no meaning in life. As such, it makes sense that an important pathway to and through recovery is to make that meaning. It is also important to realize that most people don’t “find” meaning or purpose. They make it, which may be a big reason so many people struggle with substance abuse. You feel like you’re supposed to be finding something that remains elusive.

How do you make meaning? It depends; some people build purpose through a spiritual journey, which is why a lot of addicts turn to the church. Others make meaning from volunteer work — helping others can be humbling and rewarding at the same time. Still others add meaning to their lives by spending more time with loved ones or out in nature. The key is to remain present, to contribute to the relationships you’re building, and to find your passion for what you do.

Practice and Compassion

Finally, you will have to have an abundance of compassion for yourself and your journey. Most people, regardless of what process they are undergoing, do not start, climb, and finish. They fall down a lot. The same rule applies to recovering from substance abuse. You will make mistakes, you will fall down, and you will have many hard days. It is critical that you remember every time you fall that you can get back up, and you can forgive yourself.

Compassion is often in short supply for addicts because it is not typically seen as an illness but as a choice. It is up to you to have compassion for yourself and to surround yourself with others who have compassion for you. You cannot overcome your struggle while shaming yourself. That will only make matters worse. Instead, remind yourself that everyone is always doing the best they can with what they’ve got, and that includes you.

In the end, whether you have faith in yourself, in a higher power, or both, know that you can overcome substance abuse. It likely won’t be easy, but if you’re here, reading this article now, it’s because you’re willing to try, and that’s an important first step. Build discipline into your life through structure and purpose, find the support you deserve, and you will persevere. Addiction does not have to be your whole story; it can, instead, be something you overcome.

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