[Case Study] How to Overcome an Addiction and Avoid Going to Rehab

At some point in my life, I was addicted to these three things: alcohol, cigarettes, and sex. Even though, initially, I was wondering how can someone be addicted to sex? It’s shouldn’t be an addiction, it’s a natural feeling to desire to have sex with someone, right? Wrong. As natural as it was, I was clearly a fanatic about the subject. Constantly craving for fresh blood, especially after I had a few drinks. This strong trio – alcohol, cigarettes, and sex – was directing my life towards a dark abyss. I had to do something about it. And I had to do it fast.

Before anything else, let’s answer the following question: What exactly is an addiction?

Addiction is a brain disorder. Primarily, it’s characterized by a constant urge to receive specific stimulus despite their negative consequences over time. The drive that keeps a person to repeatedly want to expose himself to these things are the received rewards, which are pleasurable for the individual. Alcohol, cigarettes, sex, cocaine, food, gambling, these are all pleasant things and it’s quite normal for us to want to expose ourselves to them. After all, everything in small doses is good and can actually influence our overall health in a positive way.1 Unfortunately, we rarely settle for small doses. All of the above-described things are extremely addictive and a person can be easily attached to.

So, why these things are so addictive?

In short, because they make us feel good. Cocaine, for instance, produces pleasant euphoria, stimulates the body, increase the levels of dopamine. After repeated use, it makes changes in the brain, which result in addiction. Alcohol is another substance that is highly addictive. The main reason is that ethanol, the prime ingredient, creates a chemical reaction that is enjoyable and at the same time obsessive.

 

THE PROBLEM

The problem occurs when the mind decides that it needs, alcohol, for example, to survive. Basically, addiction is a disorder of the brain’s reward system after chronic high levels of exposure to an addictive stimulus. After extensive use, you will become addicted to alcohol because it will become a necessity for you to feel normal.2

I’ve felt that way for a long period of time. Especially when I was out chasing girls. My mind was telling me to drink because when I was dizzy, I was able to let loose, I felt confident and was able to go and talk to girls. These things were not something I would do if I wasn’t drinking. At least I thought that way.

At first, I used alcohol as a tool, to gain confidence. Confidence meant ability for me to speak with girls and reveal the other part of me to the world – the cooler part. After certain point which I don’t remember, I was convinced that I can speak with girls only when I’m drunk. And I had tons of facts stored in mind to prove this behavior: confidence, guys wanted to be like me, telephone numbers, one night stands. Of course, I didn’t want to give up on these “powers.” The reason was much deeper than I thought, though. It wasn’t only the attention I got from girls, it was something more. When I was younger, I wasn’t noticed by girls, I wasn’t considered as good looking, funny, or cool, and this was like a dream come true to me. Alcohol gave me a fresh new look in front of others. I was convinced that I’m boring while I’m sober and the only way to become cool, was to drink. Eventually, drinking became a habit which turned into an addiction. But it took me several years to finally convince myself that it was a problem.

 

What happens when you’re addicted?

Overeating, drug addiction, alcohol, cigarets, sex, all of those have pleasurable effects to our body which result in neurochemical changes in the brain, causing an addiction and desire for more. When we have an obsession towards something, anything, is like it’s stuck in our minds. You can help not thinking about it: “I need a drink”; “I need to eat something.” When we have a bit, our brains receive a small reward. But we’re not satisfied with this small reward so we eat some more, or drink some more, to receive a bigger reward. The stop switch is missing when we previously exposed ourselves to alcohol, food, sex, or whatever. We basically want more and more pleasure to a certain point where our body simply can’t take more – at that point, we may vomit.

After a while, we no longer receive the same reward for just having a bit of chocolate, for example. Our reward receptors are blunted and that’s why we eat more food than we’re supposed to because we now need more to feel satisfied, and receive the same amount of reward we got the first time we tasted chocolate.

The video below describes in a really human way how our brain works:

Having sex is another great way to describe this. The first time we had an awesome sex with a partner is stuck in our heads and now we’re in pursuit of having equal, or even higher, pleasure when having sex. This rarely happens because our partner probably doesn’t have the same expectations as we do. It’s not that the sex is bad, but the desire for a better, dirtier sex is present in our minds and that’s why we want more.

 

How to know if you have a problem?

A hint will be that you’re reading this article.

Some people say that if you drink too much, 500ml of vodka, for instance, you’re an addict. Even if you drink too much, if you do it only in a few months time, does this makes you an alcohol addict? I don’t think so. It’s not solely about the amount of alcohol you drink, it’s rather the urge, the desire to have a drink. The frequency. If you’re playing with your kids in the park and the only thought that’s inside your mind is about you going home and pouring a glass, then yes, you have a problem.

Also, a sign will be if you find it hard to stop drinking after you have started, or you feel you sometimes need a drink in the morning. Another symptom of dependence is that, over time, greater amounts of alcohol are required to fell “good.”

If you’re still not sure if you have a certain addiction, think of it this way: How frequently you’re taking drugs, drinking, smoking, overeating, or whatever? How often do you think about doing the above-mentioned things? Is it hard for you to stop doing what you’re doing?

You can be obsessed with a lot of things without even realizing. Cleaning is one of them. Traveling is another. Yes, travel. People who are constantly on the road can’t find satisfaction and peace with themselves. In most of the cases, there is something wrong in their lives. That’s why they move places, expecting that something magical will happen. Like drugs and alcohol, people who travel are using this as a mean to satisfy an internal urge.

So, the first question you need to ask yourself is this: Why do I drink (or other) so much? Is there a deeper reason for this?

And just so you know, there probably is.

 

LEARN HOW TO BEAT ADDICTION

The main reason you’re addicted to something is because you’ve made this part of your life. After repeated use, it became a habit at some point. Smoking is the best way to describe this.

You wake up, make a coffee and you light up a cigarette. You have something to eat and you light up a cigarette. You have a drink and you do the same thing. Your mind associates smoking with drinking coffee, alcohol, eating, having sex, waiting for someone, and etc. All these become triggers for smoking. That’s why is so hard to quit. Your mind pushes you to smoke while you drink coffee because you’ve done it for a really long time. Your coffee doesn’t taste the same without a cigarette.

Understand you have a problem – You can’t cure yourself from any disease or any addiction till you realize, yourself, that there is an actual problem. The most common reason people continue to smoke, drink, eat a kilo of chocolate, is because they don’t think that they have a problem. We often neglect the comments from our friends and think that they are overexaggerating: “I don’t have a problem. I don’t drink that much. Only on occasions, like today. It’s Friday. And I deserve a drink.” So, as we mentioned previously if you’re doing something harmful way too often, then yes, you have a problem and you need to actually understand this.

Think about how your addiction is affecting your life – A good idea will be to actually sit down, alone for a moment to think about how your drinking habit is influencing your life. The longer and detailed the list, the better. Alcohol addiction includes at least these things: bad health, lack of focus, problems with your closest people, financial problems. Seeing the things written on paper will clearly show how bad is it. Of course, your list will include more personal notes: “When I drink I want to cheat on my wife. She doesn’t deserve this and I need to change.”

Understand the triggers – Despite the main trigger, your mind, there are other small things that are constantly pushing you to execute the nasty habit. For the smokers, this will be when they drink coffee, alcohol, or after they eat something, for example. The alcoholic will constantly search for excuses to drink: “It’s Wednesday, let’s go out and have a drink”; “I don’t feel good, I will have a drink”; “It’s Monday, let’s go out and have a drink.” If you drink only when you go out, you should avoid going out. If you drink mainly at home, you should throw away all the liquor. Stress is also often a trigger to indulge in your desires. Removing stress completely from your life is hard, but you can find different stress relievers: exercising is one of them.

Influencers – Whether we like it or not, the people around us influence us. If you smoke or you have a drinking problem, it’s probably hard for you to stop because of your friends or the people you go out with. We people do all kind of things to fit in a certain social group, however, this is not always healthy. Or maybe, your boss is constantly upsetting you and that’s the reason you eat more than you should. Reduce the time you spend with people who influence you bad or completely close the relationship.

Start small – If you smoke cigarettes for several years now, you probably can’t quit the next day. Try to reduce the dose day after day. The same applies for the bad influencers: Your friends maybe smokers, but that doesn’t make them bad people. Still, it will be probably good to distance yourself from them at least in the beginning, when your willpower is still weak. However, if your a cocaine addict and your friends are the same, you should quit any relationship with them, immediately.

Talk with people – Tell your best friend, mom, dad, wife, that you need to talk to her about something and share what’s on your mind. Keeping your feelings to yourself is destructive in a lot of ways. By talking with someone you can see his point of view and receive the needed support. You can even seek a professional therapist.

Find a replacement – If you’re overeating or smoking, you will wonder what to do with your hands at some point. Find a replacement for your habit, a distraction. Exercising, reading, going for a walk, a fidget spinner to keep your hands busy, taking up a new hobby, cooking, or hanging out with friends. Joining a new club, sports team, or other kind of community group will help you make new friends and start a new chapter of your life in which addiction is not a part.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

I tried several times to quit smoking and drinking till I finally released myself from these nasty habits. I took me literally years to not think about drinking.

Before, I was looking forward to going to a party, club, restaurant, with one sole purpose in my mind: to drink. Additionally, I was drinking in my apartment, pretty much every day. Not that I was getting drunk at home, but this frequency is what kept me love alcohol. My friends had almost the same admiration for the bottle. That was another bummer on my way out. Not that we were all alcoholics, but we were surely abusers.

Ever since the age of 16, our weekends were already defined: go out and drink. This was true for nearly 10 years. We knew the decoration of the clubs in our hometown better than our apartments. Party monsters was the right definition of our fellowship.

One morning, after a crazy night, I woke up not knowing how I got home. It wasn’t my first time. I checked my phone and I saw a text from my current girlfriend. It was something like this: “I don’t want to see you ever again.” Why? I didn’t remember at that point. The worst part, that wasn’t happening for the first time. I’ve done the same thing before. I knew that I had to change. My friends didn’t had quite the same problem with alcohol but I knew that they weren’t able to help me at that point. Till this day, they love going out.

The book that helped me in this time of need was this one: Outwitting The Devil By Napoleon Hill. The author describes people who drink, smoke, gamble, think about sex all the time, as people who are drifting through life, who don’t have any goals or ambitions, he refers to them as weak people. I didn’t think I was any of those. But I was. I was weak. Since I wasn’t able to resist a glass of whiskey or not to smoke when I drink coffee. Realizing this made me wanna hate myself. “I should have the power to do whatever I want and to control my actions” – that’s what I thought.

The constant desire for girls and partying kept me away from doing something creative. I was throwing all of my money for clubs and I wasn’t doing anything creative. This made me wanna hate myself even more. People younger than me were already doing something positive with their lives and I was still thinking about were should I go out tonight. Something had to drastically change.

If you’re obsessed with something, addicted to something. It doesn’t matter what it is, and you want to get rid of this nasty habit controlling your life. Ask yourself the following question: “Don’t you think that there is a lot more you can be doing? Don’t you think that you can do something better with your life?”

The answers will be certainly positive. The amount of money you spent on alcohol, drugs, food, or whatever, can be used for something much better. The time you spent drinking, and recovering after that, can be surely spent for something with purpose.3 You simply need to understand these two things:

  • Life is more than a dose or a glass of whiskey.
  • You can and should be able to control your own actions.

The important part is that you should get a good grasp of your life and don’t let outside things control your emotions or your actions.

 

FINAL WORDS

The main problem for people with addiction is that they let the substance they’re so frequently using take over their lives. They put on pedestal cocaine, whiskey, money, pussy, or other. Everything they do, is focused towards getting a sip, or other. This clearly is a disorder and not a very healthy way to live a life.

Getting your life back and gaining control is possible. Depending on the person and on the current condition, however, the treatment will be different. Sometimes a simple conversation might work. The main thing here is to realize that you have a problem and do something about it.

You can’t fight an enemy if you don’t know who that enemy is. Overcome an addiction starts from the inside. By understanding that the enemy is within you.

 


Footnotes:

  1. Even cocaine can help you if it is taken in small doses. Even though it’s impossible to predict how cocaine will affect you, there are a lot of information online that it might help, sometimes.
  2. We make the addiction part of our lives – like eating. We feel that we need it to survive, that’s why it becomes an obsession, something we can’t easily overcome.
  3. A lot of time people drink and do drugs because they’re bored. Finding meaning in your life, a purpose to pursue will clear the path and help you along the way.

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