Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Breaking up with your addiction

Whether it's sugar, alcohol, smoking, junk food or anything you can possibly imagine being addicted to, these addictions all have one thing in common, they are bloody hard to quit. So far I have managed to give up drinking and very bad eating habits, I'm just about to start giving up cigarettes. This is my guide I have written about quitting an addiction, which can be used for any habit, this is written from my experiences, not by some bloke in an office reading books about addiction, this is real life experience, much more valuable in my opinion ;)

I know, I know, this can feel like torture, but it is a great way to get you motivated, rather then just say "I'll do it soon", soon could be 50 years from now. If you know that you really (and I mean really, really!) want to quit, get your diary out and pick a day, hopefully one that is relatively stress free, but also full of activities to distract you from cravings or grumpy moods. Highlight it, write it in bold! be proud that you have the strength to stop whatever it may be you are addicted to. And then remind yourself of the positives you will receive from doing this (see point 3).

I have to admit, I have broken at least a million of the rules you are supposed to follow in recovery, yet I am still sober. Don't get into a relationship for the first year (I cant control fate), 90 meetings in 90 days (how about none?), outpatient groups (umm.. again none), read literature about your addiction (...oops). I find what has kept me away from my bad habits, most of all, is getting back to real life, looking after myself, respecting myself, having people support you, whether you need help or are doing well and keeping occupied. Follow your own path and only use what works for you, not what works for somebody else. 

- Saving money: Oh, I can't tell you the amount of money I have saved since quitting quite a few of my bad habits. It is scary to actually look back and think about how much I spent on habits that were slowly killing me. But I smile now, because I am saving money towards positive things in my life I would not have been able to do if I was still an addict, I am saving for travel, art material, yummy food, a bicycle and so much more. Money isn't the most important thing in the world, but your health sure is.

- Health: Whenever I have gone in to a rehab or GP I always get the stare down and the raised eyebrow, of course I try to deflect that with a joke, but then of course its down to the serious stuff. Luckily for me my bloods have always been good, iron .etc are all in tact, its also always a surprise for the doctors. With bad habits, come the bad effects, for example, my liver results aren't perfect due to drinking, but I am lucky and grateful that the liver has the amazing ability to heal itself and my vitamin d could be better, but I'm working on that with vitamins and a little sun. Results like this led me to take a closer look at what my habits were really doing to my body, all the damage, some can be done and some cant, but I will work on the ones that can. Improving my diet has given me more energy, taking my tablets (multivitamin, antidepressant .etc) regularly has stabilised my mood, not drinking has made my eyes clearer and made me less lethargic, drinking more water is purifying my skin and walking has helped with vitamin d (from the sun) and started all my muscles again. So when you feel uninspired think about how good you will feel without your bad habit, I bet it far out ways the habit.

- Time: A lot of people spend A LOT of time dedicated to there addiction. I know I did, I would actually revolve my day around it, which was such a waste when I think of all the productive things I could have been doing. When you give up your addiction, try to find something your are passionate about, writing, a hobby, sport, art and dedicate the time you would have spent on your addiction, doing something positive.

- You: What will you gain from stopping? stop thinking about all the people you may 'please', because god know if stopping will actually please them at all and then you will be left disappointed. Start thinking about the benefits for you, energy, happiness, health, motivation... anything that you can think of relating to you, I suggest you write it in a diary as inspiration.


Yes that "thing" was fun, it was a huge part of your life, it may have even been comforting when friends weren't to be seen. Honestly, that is just your mind trying to trick you, it was most likely harmful, it may have taken your time, your mind, your spirit, your friendships, your family or your sense of worth away from you. That is why it is important to get rid of anything that remind you of that nasty "thing", for myself I got rid of all alcohol from the house (or, well... my parents did, from my room eek!), I don't even look at the junk food items at the shops, I go straight to the fresh food. I try not to romanticize (this is common) about whatever it is that was doing me harm , instead I remember the negatives or don't think about it at all. Its like remembering a past relationship and forgetting about why you broke up in the first place, yep, all the fights and hate go out the window. Start your new life 
with a clean slate, it makes it much easier and a lot less tempting to slip :)

This is one I "borrowed" from therapy that I find very helpful. I cannot mention the amount of times I have been off of alcohol, getting praise from everyone for doing so well, and then... BAM! back to the wine bottle I go. I can't really understand why I do it, sometimes its boredom, bad news, deaths, stress or a billion other things, but I have done it. That has never given me the excuse to stop trying and that is what has led me to being sober as I write this. If you are running smoothly and have given up your habit, then suddenly you have a bad day,  go home and see a lushes bar of chocolate on the bench and eat it, don't worry! You are not a bad person, you have not ruined your life forever, there is always tomorrow to start again or right now, humans have the amazing ability to pick themselves up dust themselves off and try again. If other people have done it, why not you?

It is good not to take the 'breakup' too seriously, then you become flooded and obsessed by something that you were trying to give up, not mourn over for the rest of your life (note: there can be a mourning process after the 'break up', that is normal because you are giving up most likely something you enjoy, but sadly is doing you harm). Ok, so a short mourning period is allowed, but then its time to make light of the situation, for instance, I always have a giggle when someone says "would you like a drink?", I love reminding myself how good it is not to wake up with a hangover and I also like to read other recovery stories by great funny or inspiring writers, I particularly like

- 'Dry' - Augusten Burroughs (alcohol recovery)
- 'My Booky Wook' - Russell Brand  (alcohol recovery)
- 'The Healing Code' - Dr. Alex Loyd (health and motivation)

It is important, a few weeks in to your 'break up' to remind yourself of why you are doing this and the benefits. I find that at about the second week, I and often others seem to get over that honeymoon period, life seems dull and that drink or packet of chocolate look oh so tempting again. This is when you have to pull yourself up, you have to be a little hard on yourself, remind yourself of all the harm you were doing to yourself, imagine where you could have ended up, hospital? rehab? stuck in your bed? if it is a detox from a substance, remind yourself how painful it was and that you are so strong to have initiated the halt in the first place, look at what you have now, time with your loved ones? doing your hobbies? a clear mind? remind yourself until it is time for bed, then it will be a new day to start with a new state of mind.

Most importantly, all the doctors, nurses, strangers, friends, loved ones, partners, even you, can tell yourself that you want to give up that thing, but the truth is it really only works if you honestly, deep down want to do it for yourself. You are the person who ultimately decides, what you consume, how much you exercise, what you think and whether the benefits far out way the negatives of the item you are addicted to. Trust me, I have been in and out of hospitals, rehabs, psych wards and many home detoxes and that never stopped me, the only thing that has stopped me from indulging in something that slowly killing me, was making the decision and putting into action my own plan and it worked. I luckily and am so grateful to also have had the support of my boyfriend, family and friends, but no once can truly stop an addict but themselves. In the past I have had people close to me give up on me, tell me that I will 'always be an addict', heck I even got kicked out of rehab for drinking. But the truth is I never let any of that put me down, because I knew inside that I have dealt with many things in life harder then this and prevailed and if god forbid I ever slip,  I will try once again, because I choose to. 

Have you ever broken a habit? I'd love to know what did and did not work for you.


  1. Alcohol and smoking seem to go hand in hand. When i stopped smoking i had to....stop drinking, stop drinkining coffee, stop going out with friends. Basically everything that could be associated with smoking i stopped.

    i would like to say that you, your blog are an inspiriation and i hope many people benefit from your experience. i wish you every success in all that you set out to achieve.

    1. Thank you SO much Phil :) your comments are very motivating. I have to admit, its hard having to stop going to places that may trigger your addiction, but in the end health and well being is so much more important, so it worth it :)

  2. I stopped smoking in 2010 after many years and didn't follow the 'right' way. I spent a week logging every cigarette I had with no attempt to stop or reduce. (I'm a bit of a geek so I wanted the data!) When I looked at the log, I had recorded fewer cigs than I smoked! So I guessed that about 1/3 or all my smoking was just habit as I didn't remember wanting one or smoking at all.

    I moved my packs and lighter so I had to make an effort to get them and my smoking dwindled till one morning, I lit up, looked at the glowing tip and thought "Why am I doing this?", stubbed it out and haven't smoked since - that's 14 months. It's not been easy and I could easily slip in the wrong circumstances. What keeps me on the straight and narrow is the thought of going through all that again!

    BUT, my alcohol intake increased and I am about to do battle with that. I guess I have an additive personality. Keep us updated, please. We're cheering you on.