Addiction often comes like a compelling, driving force, a compulsive behaviour. Those challenged with addictions are always looking for ways in overcoming addiction. This is because addictive behaviour is often harmful to the individual concerned and also their relationships.
Compulsive behaviour feeds on itself. It attracts all sorts of other compulsive behaviour. For example, (and this is an example), someone addicted to gambling may also find themselves lying to their spouse, making high risk financial decisions and so on.
Addictions however, are not always something extreme like overindulgence in alcohol, gambling or smoking, which we know are harmful. One can be addicted to coffee., to sugar, cakes and so on. One can be also addicted to the internet or addicted to the television. On the face of it, none of these are necessarily wrong or evil. But where its constant use or indulgence begins to control your life or even harm your health, then there may be an addictive behaviour developing!
There is no one-size fits all approach to overcoming addiction. Research however suggests that when the one challenged with addictions can work together with those helping them, this goes a long way in overcoming addiction.
Where there is co-operation between the person addicted and those seeking to help, the following issues are important:
- Establishing motivation
- Managing urges
- Controlling thoughts, feelings and behaviours
- Balanced Living
#1 Establishing Motivation
Without motivation, we cannot start anything. Motivating the individual challenged with addictive behaviour is critical. This is because they are primarily responsible for the change.
Focusing on weaknesses as the result of addiction can be demotivating. Positive reinforcement can and always produces greater and more effective results than negative reinforcement.
Focusing on the benefits of change, with celebration of milestones appear to be the most effective means of establishing motivation. This requires loads of patience and often (as my wife has publicly stated), long-suffering. This is on the part of those who are helping the one challenged with addiction.
#2 Managing Urges
Urges are forces. They may be strong and very compelling.
Managing urges requires the individual to truly know themselves and be aware of effects of their actions at ALL TIMES. This may not always be possible. However, if motivation has been achieved, then this step is easier.
The one challenged with addiction can solicit help. They can fist talk to the pastor , a coach or mentor, or home group for example, as a good first step. They may need to join a peer group where others faced with similar challenges can motivate them in a positive, Christian direction. (As a Christian, In your quest to overcome addiction, be careful of some alternative therapies and so on, that may be in direct contradiction to your faith, for example, hypnotism).
Those challenged with addictions may be able to work with their spouse, family member or trusted friend. When an urge comes, they can alert them. Together, they can work to bring them out of the urge. The responsibility at that time becomes shared. This can alleviate the self guilt and regret that often comes with addictive behaviours.
Good habits drive out bad habits. Develop good habits and the bad ones will soon disappear.
(In this article, we have deliberately chosen to say, the ‘one challenged with addiction’, rather than use labels such as ‘addicts’. This is because what we call ourselves is very important. The only time ‘addict’ is acceptable as Christians, is when we are Christ addicts).