Beating an addiction or an eating disorder is a wonderful new year’s resolution. It is a real change you can make that has innumerable positive effects. The question is, how do you go about making a change? Most people make resolutions like getting a new job or spending more time with family, but beating an addiction is far more challenging. Addictions invade every portion of your life and require more change and dedication than the average New Year’s resolution. That being said, it is possible to make and keep a resolution to beat your addiction by following six steps. These make up a guide for how to find help and help yourself overcome whatever your addiction may be.
Step 1 - Get motivated
Breaking an addiction is hard work and if you are not willing to put in the time, there is no way you will succeed. This motivation often comes when someone hits rock bottom. They find a low point in their lives that shakes them to their core and shows them they are not the person they want to be. It may not be necessary to hit rock bottom to beat an addiction, but you have to find the motivation to quit or there is no you will stick with your resolution.
Step 2 - Track your behaviour
Look at your addiction and try to understand your patterns. For instance, if you drink, look at when you most want to have some alcohol. By better understanding what triggers your need to feed your addiction, you can beat it. This is also a good introspective exercise as it forces you to examine yourself and will help you better understand the emotions around your problem.
Step 3 - Preparation
This is the part of recovery where you should prepare yourself and your life for a clean future. Start by putting a plan together for how you are going to get clean. This should include some form of regular treatment like support groups, therapy or residential treatment. You should also be making a plan for how you will change your behaviour. For most addicts it is impossible to just flip a switch and change, you need treatment, support and a new activity to replace the old addiction or old addictive behaviours will sneak back into your life. By putting a plan together it will be easier to find and arrange these things.
Step 4 - Put your changes into practice
This is probably the hardest step but it is also the most necessary. Once a plan has been formed you have to stick to that plan. The best way to do this is to break the plan down into achievable goals and try to make progress each day. It also helps to tell someone about your plan or make a public statement to friends. They you have a real reason to follow through because if you falter there is a support network to help pick you back up.
Step 5 - Set up a system of rewards and consequences
Setting up a system of rewards and consequences will help to keep you motivated. Rewards are simple, they can be anything that is a healthy alternative to engaging in your addiction. Consequences are a little trickier because they cannot be punishments. Consequences should help reinforce the change you are trying to achieve without a negative message. For instance, if you are trying to stop drinking and you have a slip up, a consequence would be missing your favourite TV show. This is not a punishment, it is simply a reassignment of free time.
Step 6 - On-going maintenance
The sixth and final step is On-going maintenance. Once you have undergone treatment and really worked to make a change, it is important to keep it up. You do not have to stay in intensive treatment forever or constantly be on your guard but going to meetings and sticking to your long term plan are still helpful. These things can prevent relapse and make your life easier overall. Most importantly, they keep you aware of your feelings and actions which is the best way to spot a relapse coming and prevent it.
If you follow these steps, you stand a real chance of overcoming your addiction but just remember that no one has to work alone. There are plenty of great treatment options and wonderful people out there willing to give you the help and support you need. Good luck and happy new year.