“The unfortunate thing about this world is that good habits are so much easier to give up than bad ones”. - Somerset Maugham
Our shared human condition fills our lives with many challenges, with negative addiction being one of the most challenging. Since negative addiction is tied to our human condition, we know that there are key lessons we need to learn. Once negative addiction is mastered, we can more easily evolve as individuals and as a species.
You are addicted to something you can't live without and will do almost anything to attain. An addiction is something that can never be sated or satisfied as it can always come back. Addiction is tied to habits that stimulate the pleasure center of our brain, which releases dopamine and is commonly called the “feel good” chemical.
Addiction can be positive or negative. It's important to understand addiction because we are all predisposed to negative addiction as a fundamental human condition because of our human need for food and sex, both of which stimulate the pleasure center of our brain. These human conditional needs force situations of temptation, choice, self-control, and self-development.
For example, the human condition addiction for food can be a virtue when managed correctly but becomes the vice of gluttony when taken too far.
Negative addiction is frequently associated with drugs, tobacco, and gambling but also includes overindulgences in food, sex, entertainment, social media, etc. Most often, harmful addiction is not made by a reasonable choice but is one of circumstance. As many become reliant on pain killers like morphine and fentanyl for the treatment of an injury, this addiction becomes hard to stop even after our injury is healed, often leading to the use of illegal drugs like heroin.
Others of us are given tobacco and drugs by our role models or elders before we understand what is really at issue. Parents sometimes allow unmonitored and unrestricted use of electronics and social media that are designed to be addictive or that present images, sounds, and situations that children can't understand or deal with effectively.
The best practice in dealing with addiction is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
We do this by:
- Teaching the young self-control using delayed gratification (a.k.a. impulse control) with food and other things they like. For more, see the Child & Family Guide.
- Ensuring that the young are not exposed to addictive products.
- Ensuring that all know which products and drugs are addictive and harmful before use.
- Helping those who are addicted to recover.
- Fighting together against those designing addicting foods, electronics, and other products.
- Filling your life with the positive is also crucial. Here you can follow The Way, filling your lives with positive habits, exercise, training, and positive daily doings. Your practice can include delayed gratification/ impulse control and self-control exercises to ensure that you keep yourself under control.
For example, at work, instead of looking at your phone, you engage other people around you. You might place a snack you really like in front of you and wait to eat it for a long time or even give it away.
It's essential to keep this in mind as you go through the process of breaking a negative addiction that it’s a transitional moment in life that will not last. Also, even after you have broken the addiction, there may be times when the temptation is very strong.
Here it's essential to view these temptations as tests of your will power rather than a sincere desire. As you overcome each test, you will gain strength and abilities that will allow you to withstand other temptations when they arise. Overcoming addiction can be a life challenge that, once mastered, makes you a mentally stronger person.
To Overcome Addiction
- The first step for any negative addiction is first to realize it exists. You must acknowledge there is a problem before you can get help. Acknowledgment can be something you become aware of personally or by others bringing it to your attention.
- Next, you need to find the desire to end it. Without the willingness to fix the problem, the problem will most likely persist or come back. The higher your motivation, the better chance you have.
- The third step is to create a plan to end your addiction.
- This plan should include help from others as needed. There are support groups that help with ending every form of addiction.
- Adjust the plan if it's not working to find the right balance for you. Note that there are commonalities when fixing addiction, but in the end, the program needs to be customized to fit the individual, for, while similar, we are not all the same. You might require different approaches.
For example, exercises are part of everyone's plan, how you do it, when, and what you do can be very different.
- Your plan should also focus on adding positive elements to your life rather than only stopping something. The goal is to replace the negative with the positive.
- Prepare for withdrawals, regardless of whether you quit drugs fast or slow; you will go through withdrawals. Depending on the addiction, some withdrawal symptoms can be quite involving severe fever, tremors, hallucinations, and desires to die. Others might be just a prolonged sense of unease and want. Other people, hobbies, work, workouts, games, and more can help here.
- Regardless, the key is to know that this is a transitional moment that will not last. You need to go through this so you can move on. It’s a test of will and your ability to make hard choices and so much more.
These are feelings of tremendous emotional, mental, and physical trauma as your animal body fights off the addiction. After the withdrawal period is over, it’s critical to heal and recover with proper nutrition as well as positive mental and physical exercise. You need to work to transmute all the negative and positive energy that comes with this event into building good habits that make your life better.
- Next, you follow the plan, stick with it, and get help and support as needed. Having a “Daily Way” to follow helps here.
- Be sure to train your body and mind hard during difficult times. Workouts will help rewire your twisted sense of pleasure into something more positive. So, if you play mind games, meditate, and work your body hard, you will stimulate the pleasure center of your brain, giving you some relief and creating positive feedback naturally.
- Continue to focus and fill your life with the positive instead of focusing on what you are not doing. It's about crowding out the bad with the good.
For example, you don’t quit smoking; you live healthily.
As individuals and collectively as a species, mastering addiction is essential to our happiness and development as people. Each of us needs to do our part. For it’s through working together to end negative addiction and controlling the positive that we take another step down our “True Path,” add another critical piece to the puzzle of a “True Life,” and help in the creation of our “True Society.”