For years I hated the word addiction because I felt it connoted an immorality that didn’t apply to me, a level of depravity that seemed like an overstatement. In time I let go of my dislike of the label and realized that regardless of what I called it – a habit, a dependency, or a craving – it still had the power to control my life in a way that was unhealthy and unacceptable. And I never realized how controlled I was by my addiction until I let go of it.
I recently spoke with a woman who hasn’t had a drink in seventeen years or a cigarette in ten years, yet she is 150 pounds over her healthy body weight. A man I coach has never had a drinking problem, but he smokes incessantly. Darian, a longtime friend of mine, is so controlled by what people think of her that she has had more plastic surgeries that most people I know – all in an effort to achieve what she perceives as the perfect look.
We live in a society that encourages excess, stress, fitting in, and being liked at any cost. It eventually backfires. When we bring together an unhappy person with a means of escape we may get a habit.
Getting hooked is easy. Getting off is hard, but it can be done. Here are some suggested steps you can take if you are serious and ready to let go of your addictions:
- Admit you have a problem. Before recovery can occur, there must be an admission that a problem exists.
- Get help. Today help is available for all kinds of problems.
- Listen to the people who have recovered from illnesses similar to yours.
- Walk through the daily fear you’ll encounter.
- Be willing to stretch beyond your comfort zone. If you’re not willing to do the footwork, it’s not likely you’ll succeed.
- Talk about what’s bothering you. You are as sick as your secrets.
We may not be the addict in our lives, but we can become controlled by someone else’s addiction. The outcome is the same. We make choices based on that person’s problem, particularly if it’s a family member. We make excuses for this person’s behavior and, without knowing it, support him or her in staying addicted and not taking responsibility for his or her actions. If this is you, get help.
Before there can be recovery, there must be an admission that a problem exists. Is an addiction running your life? Or is there someone close to you with an addiction that affects you? Maybe it’s an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, prescription medication, sex, shopping, plastic surgery, or old ideas. Whatever it may be have the courage to acknowledge its presence in your life.