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Everything You Never Wanted to Be: Overcoming Addiction

By Lizbeth Perez

Addiction is a very common struggle in America today. We are addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, pornography, food, and smoking. Even I will admit to having an addiction: shoes (last time I checked, I have 192 pairs…) Regardless of what your vice may be, conquering an addiction is probably one of the hardest battles to fight.

*Note that this is not medical advice; I am not a health professional. 

Are You an Addict? Who Exactly is an Addict?

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as, "…a primary chronic disease of the brain’s circuitry related to reward, motivation, and memory, rather than simply a problem based in behavior. This brain dysfunction is reflected in impaired behavioral control, craving for the object(s) of addiction, and the inability to abstain consistently, as well as diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships.”

But just why are some people so much more vulnerable to addiction? What causes a person to one day realize that their life has spun out of control and has become utterly unmanageable? Is there a certain characteristic that we should look out that separates an addict from the rest of the world? 

It would be so much easier if there were such a way. But, reality is it that everyone’s “rock bottom” is different and varies as much as their poison of choice. Not all addicts look like a ninety-pound homeless waif covered with track (needle) marks on what is left of their body. This only further adds to why addiction is so deceitful and why it make take years, sometimes even lifetimes, before the addict himself, family or friends even notice that there maybe some sort of problem.

So why, or how, does someone become an addict? 

Truth is, there are several theories out there, and no one actually knows.  A few of the major factors that are attributed to addiction include (but are not limited to) genetic predisposition, environmental influences (such as peer pressure) and even gender. In fact, in an essay that was published in The Harvard Mental Health Letter (January 2010), women not only find it harder to recover from addiction but progress more quickly than their male counterparts with their use of recreational drug usage to dependence, suffer from more social consequences of addiction and are more susceptible to relapse after quitting. 

How to overcome and addiction: 

Many people who want to overcome addiction think that simply having enough will-power is enough for them to stop their addiction. 

But this is faulty thinking. Why? Because it just doesn’t work. In fact, sometimes the more you “will” yourself out of an addiction, the deeper and deeper into the addiction you go. 

So, how do you overcome an addition? 

1. The first thing that you need to realize is that dwelling on the past is completely counterproductive to any sort of healing. You need to be willing to admit, as hard as it may seem, that you have a problem. Quite often addiction becomes a blame game, it's all too easy to place the blame for this affliction somewhere else, and you end-up avoiding the real issue: your addiction. Once you get past the "why me" stage and accept facts for what they are, you are on your way to a better life. Put that energy into healing yourself and not blaming the past or others.

2. Once you realize that you are ready to heal and have admitted to yourself that there is a problem, you need to tell someone else about you addiction. Sometimes, the fact that you already admitted it to yourself may have been the hardest part but doesn’t make it any less scary. Because of this, start the process by taking a small step. Tell someone – even if it’s just one person – you can trust. If not a friend or family member, talk to a therapist or a pastor. 

Shoe Addiction 
3. Also, when you do open up to someone, Be sure that you are actually out of denial and actually call it an addiction instead of rationalizing it to them by saying things such as, “I know I drink a little too much now and then,” or “I know I shouldn’t still be taking this medication,” or “you know, it’s only a few times a month that I log on to that Internet site,” or “I eat because I like it.”  Unfortunately, many people are inclined to say things like this because there is still so much stigma with addictions, associating the addictive "need" to a human "weakness" of "flaw" instead of a health problem and treating it as such. 

Ultimately, the road to recovery for anyone suffering from addiction is different. Luckily, there are a few things that are consistent, which includes outlets and opportunities for those people to feel comfortable seeking help. Whatever you do, don’t lose hope and always remember that recovery is a life long process that’s bound to have a few bumps down the road. 

If you or anyone is suffering from any form of addiction please visit the following webpage: Addiction Help.  


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