Almost every great person I know was or is an addict. Charles Bukowski the famous writer was an alcoholic, Albert Einstein was promiscuous, and your favorite rapper is probably smoking from a shisha pot right now.
So, maybe addiction isn’t such a unique thing that few people suffer from. Maybe addiction is not even something to be considered a dysfunction. Maybe addiction is not a bug but rather a feature.
WHAT IS ADDICTION?
Addiction results from the wiring of the human brain.
We are creatures that learn from feedback. When we sense (taste, feel, smell, see, or hear) something that stimulates us pleasurably, we are tempted to go back to it. This is because our brains link pleasure to survival.
This is why we eat and mate. These things feel good because they are what has kept our species alive. We eat in order not to die. We mate to procreate. In fact, we crave applauds and seek likes online because those are interpreted by the brain as necessities for survival. Millennials ago, if no one liked you and they decided to let you wander alone, chances are that you would be eaten by a wild beast.
So, we naturally go back to the things that feel good and detest those that do not feel good. However, as we grow older, we begin to consciously force ourselves to chose better – because the mind is not perfect at choosing what is best for itself.
Hence, people who are overly drawn to something that feels good, are considered addicted to that thing.
In a nutshell, addiction means having a weak will to resist pleasure.
THE PROBLEM WITH ADDICTION
So, is it safe to say we are all addicted to our favorite food?
The answer is maybe and maybe not. But that’s not the point here. The point is, some addictions kill.
See, people call smoking addiction, but no one calls writing, eating, or sleeping an addiction. This is because smoking kills…
Addictions, by nature, aren’t crimes. If you are addicted to drinking beer, no one would arrest you for that – in fact, you are profitable to brewery companies and the economy at large, so why should anyone bother you?
However, addictions must be terminated if they are harming you or someone else.
That being said, combating addiction shouldn’t be an attempt to stop something which is “unnatural” and “evil”, but rather to tame something which is “natural” and “common”.
Thankfully, there is a simple and systematic approach to breaking any addiction, pretty much as you can teach a dog to stop stealing your cookies.
WHAT YOU MUST NOT TELL AN ADDICT
You must not tell an addict that what they are addicted to is bad.
I think I’ve repeated this enough. Addiction is a natural thing experienced by millions of people – whatever addiction you can think of. It is not special, unique, nor without remedy. If you want out, you can get out (of the addiction).
And even worse, you must not tell an addict that what they are doing is a sin.
I know, I know, you are probably wondering if I am nuts, but here is the thing, if you convince someone (or yourself) that what is being done is bad (or worse, a sin) then you’ve successfully convinced the person (or yourself) that something bad (i.e. a sin) is pleasurable.
You are reaffirming to them that their addiction feels so damn good. Now, this totally messes up the person’s mind and builds a wall of resistance against any chance of stopping the habit.
You are indirectly giving them (or yourself) the opportunity to justify the addiction. Allowing them to drag into the conversation the argument that “yeah, everybody sins. Everybody does some wrong. No one is perfect. And, besides, I’m not hurting anyone with it. I deserve some pleasure and happy time”. This thing is my medicine even though it kills me. I love my poison, yadda yadda yadda”.
You essentially make them, or yourself, defensive by calling something so pleasurable and relaxing bad.
What you want to do is teach the person/yourself how to let go of the pleasure.
You want to convince them that the pain it brings greatly outweighs the pleasure. You want to turn the pleasure into “pain” in their minds. You want to reprogram their minds.
To do this, simply follow the simple step listed below.
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HOW TO BREAK ADDICTIONS FOR GOOD, AND FOREVER [Using the 4-Step Sledgehammer Method]
There is a reason I’ve chosen to call this method the sledgehammer method. And, it is because it requires you placing the addiction on the workbench of “reality check”, and then bringing upon it the full weight of its cost – to completely destroy its perceived benefits.
It is a technique that “brute-forces” the mind to let go of pleasure, by pounding it with unbearable “cost-benefit analysis”. It would require you pulverizing the mind with quick-succeeding blows of facts and powerful emotions.
The sledgehammer starts by stacking the pain…
STACK THE PAIN:
The number one thing you want to do is to stack the pain of continuing with the habit. You want to make it painfully clear to the addict that their habit is costing them a whole lot more than it is benefiting them.
This could mean helping them see the financial, health, and social cost in a frightening and glaringly clear way.
To achieve this, you must think and verbally list out the cost of the addiction. Then, get more pragmatic and list out the cost against the benefits. You can carry out research, ask a specialist, or consult other recovered addicts to get more details and facts.
For example, you could show a smoker just how much he is spending on cigarettes yearly. You could then go ahead to show them how many bags of cigarettes they’ve consumed that year. After which you must proceed to show them the health implication of smoking that many cigarettes (show them pictures, videos, and charts). And finally – striking them where it hurts the most – show them the wonderful family and life they are going to leave behind due to death – that would be imminently brought upon them by the addiction…
Your aim is to make the pain of smoking – even a single stick – outweigh the pleasure by a huge margin. You are to make it crystal clear and drum it into their subconscious.
But, how can you? I mean, how can you get the chance to do this? Because let’s be realistic, confrontation is a very uncomfortable situation (whether you’re the one confronting or being confronted). It gets worse when you are the addict and are attempting to be honest with yourself?
That is why I recommend you use mediums such as a very long educational video, articles, a seminar, a book, or some other medium that can catch and hold their/your attention for a long time. Long enough register in their/your psych without the danger of feeling awkward or getting defensive.
If you fail to do this, then everything you try would be futile. Because, why would they/you want to starve themselves from their/your pleasure? It’s like keeping a pet in a room and commanding it not to eat its cookie. Sure, it might (out of fear) resist in your presence, but you and I know what happens once you step out. We know what happens when no one is watching or judging. We know…
The next step in breaking any addiction is to…
HIDE THE COOKIE
Your aim at this stage is to create a level of barrier between the addict and their addiction. This could mean doing away with the packets of cigarettes and avoiding stocking up the refrigerator with beer. It could mean cutting ties with someone or even relocating.
The idea is to stay away from the thing that one is addicted to. This is because deciding to quit (after seeing the gross harm the addiction causes) doesn’t make the craving go away. Once a person is addicted to something, they are susceptible to it for life – it is the reason they were drawn to it the first time. There is no remedy to the craving (it can only be greatly reduced).
This means, tasting just a bottle, or a stick, or another night out with a sex worker (or porn), would drag the individual into a slippery slope – deep into the depths of their dark desires and fantasies.
First, you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.– F. Scott Fitzgerald
- – Don’t have a packet of cigarette in your pocket
- – Don’t buy alcohol (have none in the refrigerator)
- – Don’t hang around places where your pleasures lurk (don’t visit the damn club, or bar, or wherever your temptations reside)
- – Keep off social media pages, or songs, or movies that instigate the addiction.
- – Change the setting on Google search to block adult contents
- – Change your Twitter setting to censor tweets with the keywords of your addiction.
- – Intentionally go and block the sources of the “demons” of your addiction that whisper to you.
Note: our addictions are not “bugs”, they are not errors, but rather features of our mind.
Hence, to break addictions, we must learn to persuade and convince our minds to let go of what they cherish so much. This process can be painful, but it is doable.
It would require one consciously hammering into their minds the realization that the addiction is harming them. And then taking extra steps to ensure that they never go back to it.
It requires being separated from the cookie. it requires joining another community…
JOIN A COMMUNITY
So, you’ve finally decided, or have convinced the person to quit the habit, right? So, what next?
I’ll tell you. The next step is even more dramatic. Remember this was called the Sledgehammer Method – It requires a lot of breakages.
Look, because, once a person is (or gets) addicted to something, they are addicted to it for life, breaking an addiction requires breaking a lifestyle.
- – Changing environment (and sometimes friends)
- – It requires finding new environments (and sometimes friends)
This is something I’ve written a lot about.
It operates on the principle of the “herd mentality”, “peer pressure”, “Social proof”, or whatever you decide to call the concept that explains people’s tendency to copy the behavior of those around them.
People don’t like being too different. You want to be uniform with everyone else. You want to wear the same shade of blue like everyone else. You want to use the latest iPhone, you want to do this and do that…because every other person is doing it. It is the trend, and you don’t want to be left out.
When you want to break an addiction, you want to ensure that you don’t just leave an environment where your addiction is considered normal, but you want to get into an environment where your addiction is frowned at.
I don’t know about you, but it is very hard for me to use curse words in a religious gathering. This is the same for every other thing. We love to sound smart when addressing a professor but prefer sounding ghetto when talking with pals from the hood.
It is extremely hard to go against the crowd, so why not join a crowd that is heading your direction? better still, why not get someone to hold you accountable for your actions
GET AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
One final tool in your arsenal – the handle of this sledgehammer – is an accountability partner.
This is someone who you report to. This is someone you inform that you want to quit a habit and that they should help you stick to that decision.
This can be someone you’ve agreed to pay a certain fee whenever you falter.
This person is you detached from your ego and emotions
This person must not be struggling with the same addiction. They must be unable to understand your struggles. They must be indifferent to your pain.
They must hold you accountable.
Most folks chose the option of confessing to the clergy and then sticking to the guidance of the clergy. Some chose to get a coach, pay for a course and then stick to the program organized by the coach.
I don’t know what you choose. But you must make a choice – then stay accountable.
FINAL NOTE (this is very important)
Before your close this, I want to say one more thing.
See, if I’m being honest with you, I would have to let you know that most addictions are side effects. They are the products of something else.
Addictions are actually the result of pain and emptiness within.
Most people who are addicted to porn are stick to it because they lack a happy and functional relationship. True, you can have a partner and still watch porn, but remember what I said in the intro. The problem is not with the act, but the incessant pattern and consistency.
This also holds true for a myriad of addictions. People use something that would have been otherwise nice, and even a bit admirable, and turn it into something dangerous.
To be honest, most addictions are simply ways we try to run away from the monsters we are not dealing with. Sometimes it might just be anger, boredom, pain, loneliness, or fear.
Most times it is subtle and hidden. And requires a degree of self-awareness to discover. If you look deep enough and are honest with yourself, you would find it – you would find the source of the pain.
And, once you fix the problem in your life, the grip of the addiction loosens.
And with the “sledgehammer” you are sure to free yourself.
For more resources for breaking addictions (such as porn, drinking, and smoking), please feel free to reach out to me.
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A Self-Help Writer And Editor Who Keeps It Simple (Yet Elegant)