At best, addictive behaviors may be annoying to you or others. Nail-biting, for example. But when they’re at their worst, they can destroy health, happiness, finances, and friendships. Substance abuse, eating addiction, gambling can fall into this category. You have the power to stop addictive behaviors, no matter how big or small.
These tips will get you moving in the right direction.
Understand What Addiction Is
You’ve probably heard that addiction is a brain disease. But what does that mean? The brain contains pathways of nerves that represent your common thought processes and actions. The more you do something, the stronger these pathways become. As a result, your mind struggles to veer from that pathway.
Furthermore, when something starts you down one of these paths, you automatically follow it if you’re not mindful. We call this a trigger because it can happen so fast.
For example, if you always stop for a burger after work, then getting off work becomes a trigger. So when you get in the car, you feel compelled to get that burger. You’re following that brain pathway. And this craving is hard to resist, even if you’re trying to improve your nutrition.
Addiction to drugs, gambling, social media, sex, overspending, and negative self-talk all follow this logic. If a substance is involved, those are often the hardest addictive behaviors to quit because drugs and alcohol will alter an individual’s brain chemistry. Substance use disorders go beyond process addictions like gambling or sex as they involve both habitual thinking and acting as well as physical dependence that needs to be medically treated to recover from. And you may experience more that one addictive behavior, complicating the situation. But effective solutions exist.
Replace the Behavior
The good news is that you can weaken these brain pathways, so they no longer control you. At the same time, with support, individuals can strengthen other more positive pathways.
One of the best ways to stop addictive behaviors is to replace it with something else that is less harmful or even positive. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of treatment that applies this principle to replace self-defeating thinking patterns and actions. By identifying negative self-images and misconceptions, CBT traces an individual’s actions revealing how the thoughts impact decision-making and acts. Then the therapy works to replace those negative conception with positive ones. It is a form of talk therapy that has proven itself quite effective for many individuals.
Many people run their lives on auto-pilot. So they’re not thinking about what they’re doing, why they do it, or how they feel about it. But something amazing happens when you wake up from this dream. You realize you can choose to stop addictive behaviors and start reclaiming control of your life.
Practicing mindfulness helps you stay present and aware.
Consider Why You Want to Change
What is addiction doing to your life? Is it destroying relationships? Have you ever been unable to pay the rent because of it? Do you have chronic health conditions or worsening mental health because of it?
Make a list to motivate you to stop addictive behaviors.
Recognize When You Need Help to Stop Addictive Behaviors
Is addictive behavior doing damage to relationships, finances, health, or happiness? But you find you’re still unable to quit? These are signs that you need professional support and accountability.
At the Integrative Life Center in Nashville, we can offer you this support. We take an individualized and holistic approach to addiction. Some of our therapies include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Mindfulness meditation therapy
- Art and Music therapy
- Motivational interviewing therapy
If addictive behaviors are controlling your life, it’s time to reclaim your ability to choose what you think or do. Please call us at 615.455.3903 to see if our programs are right for you.