Three Weapons Against Addiction

on February 16 | in Individual Improvement | by | with 2 Comments

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There’s an evil glee, a perverse fulfillment, in the return to old bad addictions. Every vice has its anticipatory building. The old juices start to flow. The old pattern awakens within you, you start executing the sequence of inevitability that leads back into the cave from which you have emerged.

I have an addictive personality. I’ve had problems with quite a few things, and emerged triumphant from some of them after years and years of unpleasant, depressing fulfillment patterns. Now, when the muttering voices summon me back into my old ways, I have weapons. It certainly wasn’t always this way, and I certainly have yet more vices to conquer. Nevertheless, I hope to share my weapons with you and that they will help you in your battles.

I know that a lot of people love to say they’ve never had an addiction. More power to them if it’s true, but if that’s you – before you close this and move on to something else, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Have you ever not enjoyed a beautiful moment with friends or family because you were mentally being pulled toward something else?
  2. Have you ever felt stuck in a rut that contained intervals of routine intense pleasure?

If you answered yes, then I encourage you to ask yourself whether that mental pull is toward an addiction, or if that intense pleasure is possibly one. Or better, test the questionable activity – quit it for a month. If that’s hell, then you have a problem.

Whether you know or suspect you might have an addiction, here are three weapons that work for me.

Weapon One: Surround Yourself with People in the Same Battle

This is why there are support groups. And, as a dedicated hermit, I fully understand why you might be reluctant. But when you first attend one of these things, you discover two things from other people:

  1. Any self-destructive addictions leads deeper and deeper into the pit. Chances are, you haven’t bottomed out yet if you’re reading this. Perhaps you thought you did, but there’s probably still deeper depths. Whatever your addiction is, old-timers have been there and emerged. Never discount the wisdom of the old for this reason, however full of pride and self-determination you may be. Seeing where the path leads helps you start the return trek without reaching the destination.
  2. Everyone who yielded to compulsion has secret shames. Yours are no more significant, and perhaps pale in comparison. Being honest about your shames helps you bring them into consciousness, and others being honest about their shames helps you be honest with yours. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to be honest in self-reflection when someone else is willing to be your mirror.

And it’s not just something you do it once. It’s an ongoing fight, so you can’t just reach out once. You’ll have high days and low days. Eventually you’ll be more triumphant than not, and when you are you can help others vanquish the enemy.

There’s a partial list of official support group websites on serenityfound.org that covers most common addictions like drugs, alcohol, food, smoking, gambling, and so on. Find a group now, the rest of the article can wait.

Something else support groups commonly endorse is the idea of laying yourself open to a higher power, which leads me to my next weapon.

Weapon Two: Believe in Divinity, Believe in Yourself

It takes time to grow this weapon within yourself. I didn’t title this faith because there’s more to believe than in a greater power… although it might be said that all belief of this sort recourses back to that.

  1. Addictions, when they become a significant part of your personality, are not something you can readily deal with using only willpower. In prayer and contemplation, ask that your choice of God take on the burden, that you be helped shouldering the weight. Clearly, your will alone has not been sufficient – and in the asking and receiving, you will find faith.
  2. You are not essentially dirtied by your actions or your addictions. Within you, at your depths, you are pristine and unmarred. Once you stop pouring filth into your stream of unconsciousness, it will once again (mostly) run true and pure.

It’s difficult to change our core beliefs, but strong addictions do so. These are not sudden things you will believe, these are things you will come to know. Someday you will be able to look upward and feel the radiance washing away your impurities.

Until you have faith, have faith that you will one day obtain faith.

Weapon Three: Introduce Alternative Dialogues

Whenever the voice of addiction speaks to you, you don’t need to argue with it. You don’t need to succumb and obey it, either. You just need to drown it out.

  1. Read and watch spiritual and inspirational books and videos. Do this enough, and you’ll have another voice within you, eventually just as strong as the voice of addiction, and you can choose to pay attention to one over the other. You don’t even need the voice of hope and love to speak loudly: if you focus on a whisper, shouting becomes indistinct and ignored.
  2. Adopt daily meditation. My reference to voices might sound like an extreme schizophrenic if you aren’t someone who meditates. The bottomless truth is this: your stream of thoughts and emotions are not you – and that includes addictions, hopefulness, and even actions. Where a bad habit has a grip on your body and mind, it speaks to you in urges – that’s the voice I refer to, and through meditation you can come to disassociate yourself from your urges.

Your essential self is untouched by addiction. It is happy, free, above all problems, and at peace. Once you begin to touch this true self of yours, everything will work out. Be patient and allow yourself to emerge in freedom. Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra, more quotes here

May you be blessed in your fight, if you have an addiction to overcome. Know that compulsions can be tamed with alternative discourses and you can be cleansed with spirit. Know that you are not alone in your fight. But know also that, for any truly addicted person, there is never permanent victory in this life. That comes later.

It’s a day to day operation we’re running here, and sometimes old habits will speak up more loudly than others. It can’t be emphasized enough: take it one day at time.

Each old habit, each old urge, is triggered by dozens of old cues – so that, even after you overcome the primary triggers, you will need recourse back to your weapons when other cues arise or when friends and family are not supportive of your efforts. And they don’t have to be. This is your fight.

Blessings,
-M


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2 Responses

  1. Zachary says:

    That was a very well thought out article Matt. Thanks for sharing.

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