“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.
We are addicted to something we 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 or 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 include over indulgences in food, sex, electronics, social media, etc. Most often negative addiction is not made by reasonable choice but is one of circumstance. As many become reliant on pain killers like morphine for 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 at issue. Parents sometimes allow unmonitored and unrestricted use of electronics and social media that are designed to be addictive or that present images, sound and situations that children can't understand or deal with effectively.
Preventing Addiction: 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 with food. For more see “Compendium Step 6 Unite: Micro Relationships: Relationships with Children” for more.
- Ensuring that the young are not exposed to addictive products.
- Ensure that all know which products and drugs are additive and harmful.
- Help those who are addicted to recover.
- Fight together against those designing addicting foods and other products.
- Filling your life with the positive is also key. Here you can follow The Way, filling your lives with positive habits, exercise, training and positive daily doings. Your training can include delayed gratification 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.
Addiction Recovery: It's important to keep this in mind as you go through the process that breaking a negative addiction is 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 important to view these temptations as tests of your will power rather than a true 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:
1. The first step for any negative addiction is to first realize it exists. This can be something you become aware of personally or by others bringing it to your attention.
2. Next, you need to find the desire to end it. Without the desire to fix the problem, the problem will most likely persist. The higher your motivation, the better chance you have.
3. 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, all plans need to be customized to fit the individual person as while similar, we are not all the same. This 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 be focused on adding in positive elements to your life rather than only stopping something. The goal is to fill the negative space with positive actions.
- 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 serious involving 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. It is needed for you to move on. It is 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 key to heal and recover with good 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.
4. 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. This will help rewire our 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.
- Here it’s important 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 quite smoking, you live healthy.
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 add another key piece to the puzzle of a “True Life” and the creation of our “True Society”.