You realize that you have a problem – that your addictive behavior is affecting other parts of your life – and you want to know how to end an addiction. Chances are, you didn’t expect to get addicted at the beginning. You may have thought you were just having fun and could stop anytime.
Many people who develop addiction are surprised at how difficult they find their first attempt to quit and end up wondering: Why can’t i stop
Why is it so hard to stop?
The good news is that although it is a complicated process, you can quit. There are many physical, mental, emotional, and biological factors that make quitting difficult.If youThis is why so many people find that treatment helps them get through the complex process of quitting – although many people manage to quit on their own.
Addiction affects the frontal cortex of your brain in a way that alters your impulse control and judgment. The brain’s reward system is also modified in such a way that the memory of previous rewards can trigger cravings or increased “hunger” for drugs or reward experiences despite negative consequences.If youIf you
If you think, feel, or act in a certain way that contradicts your decision to quit, you can be more compassionate with yourself and keep trying.
Tolerance and withdrawal are key factors that contribute to addiction. They are closely related and play a big part in why you became addicted in the first place.If youIf people didn’t develop tolerance and withdrawal, they’d probably find it a lot easier to stop.
Tolerance is both a physical and a psychological process. The more often the behavior is repeated, the less sensitivity you have to it and the more you have to achieve the same effect. Drugs like alcohol and opiates act on certain parts of the brain and create physical tolerance.
Behaviors like sex and gambling create feelings of arousal that become less intense over time.If youAs tolerance develops, you may want to do more of the drug or behavior to get the same effect.
If you become addicted, withdrawal may occur if you are unable to perform the addictive behavior. Physical withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, malaise, stomach upset and / or psychological withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, anxiety or depression may occur. These can easily be “fixed” with more addictive substances or addictive behavior.
Physical withdrawal from alcohol and drugs, while different, often resolves over a period of several days. However, it is rather uncomfortable and can be dangerous. If you do decide to stop, it is best to do so under medical supervision.If youIf you
Discuss physical withdrawal with your doctor to find out how best to go about it. Once you’ve gone through the retreat there are other challenges that make it difficult to “stay on the wagon”.
Barriers to quitting
When your addictive behavior becomes so strong that it creates conflict, it is no longer in balance with other parts of your life. Conflict can arise within yourself – you want to limit your behavior while having a greater urge to do so. Conflict occurs with other people too – whether they want you to quit or you want to join them in addictive behavior.
Despite the obligation to stop and go through the withdrawal phase, conflicts don’t just go away. Expectations are higher than ever. The only thing you relied on to deal with stress – the addictive behavior – is now off-limits.
This is why it’s so important that other coping methods are firmly in place, ideally before you quit. A therapist will help you with this. Without coping skills in place, you are likely to have a strong urge to “go back” to addictive behavior. Relationship support can help you manage and avoid conflict without using your addictive behavior for comfort and escape.
Ambivalence, the mixed feeling of wanting to both continue and quit addictive behavior, is part of the addiction process even in the early stages of experimentation.If youIf you
Often this is perceived as “right” and “wrong”, a moral dilemma, particularly with regard to sexual and illegal behavior. In some cases, guilt is appropriate; in others they are not.
Guilt and justification
The discomfort of those guilty feelings when your behavior doesn’t meet your own standards of right and wrong can be a powerful motivator for change. Sometimes it can work against you, causing you to justify your behavior to yourself and to other people. This can get in the way of the decision to quit.If youIf you
Some common justifications are:
- Refusal: “It’s not a problem.”
- Minimization: “I’ve already cut it.”
- Comparisons: “Pollution is more dangerous.” “Uncle Ted drinks a lot more than I do.”
- In spite of: “I would rather live a shorter life and be happy than stop and be miserable.”
- rationalization: “I never stole to finance my habit”, “I’m much more sociable when I’ve had a drink.”
- That lesser of two evils: “Better to do it than it is impossible to live with me.”
- Misinformation: “Cancer doesn’t run in my family.” “It’s medicinal, so it’s fine.” “Chocolate is the only cure for PMS.”
- Taking behavior out of context: “In some cultures, polygamy is acceptable.”
- glorification: “Queen Victoria used …” “Old Testament patriarchs had many wives.” “Jesus drank wine.”
How can you stop?
Therapy can help you manage uncomfortable feelings and unravel the irrational thoughts that are addicting you. Quitting isn’t easy or straightforward, but a good support group and treatment program will help you achieve it when you are ready.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the National Drug Abuse and Mental Health Agency (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-4357 Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.
Additional mental health resources can be found in our National Helpline Database.