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How To Break An Addiction In 6 Simple Steps

Addiction is a condition in which a person is unable to stop using a substance or engaging in a behavior. How to break an addiction? Well, it will take a lot of time and effort from your side to completely become free of your addiction.

Before looking into ways how to break an addiction, let’s find out more about what addiction is and the different types of addiction.

1. What Is Addiction

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Addiction is defined as the inability to quit taking a substance or engaging in an activity, although it is harmful to one’s health.

Addictions are often confused with habits, but in no way are they similar. Habits are things that you do without paying attention to them. Addiction, on the other hand, is defined as behavior that we obsessively continue despite knowing the risk and negative effects.

People often relate the word addiction to taking illegal substances such as drugs, overconsumption of alcohol, and excessive smoking. But depending on substances does not fully describe addiction.

Some addictions are constituted by the inability to quit doing activities like sex, gambling, eating, or working.

Nobody ever takes addictive drugs or participates in addictive activities to become addicted. They may be aware of the danger and risk to physical health as well as to mental health yet convince themselves that it will never happen to them.

Addictions are known to cause many types of mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, Bipolar Personality Disorder(BPD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), eating disorders, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD). They also contribute to heart disease.

Despite knowing the negative results, someone who is addicted will continue to abuse the substance or activity. Sometimes people become addicted as a means of coping mechanism.

2. Addiction Categories

  1. Physical Addictions
  2. Behavioral Addictions

2.1. Physical Addictions

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Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Physical addictions, also known as chemical addictions, occur when a substance is taken that is quite harmful to the body. Substance use disorder also comes under the category of Chemical addictions.

2.1.1. Substances Included

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Opioids
  • Tobacco
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription drugs
  • Inhalants
  • Amphetamines
  • PCP
  • Hallucinogens

2.1.2. Symptoms

  • Not able to discontinue using the addictive substances.
  • Unable to concentrate if the substance is not taken.
  • Negative effects on studies, work, and other daily activities.
  • Have a problem maintaining relations with friends and family.
  • Despite knowing the effects of the substance, there is a consistent urge to do it again.
  • When trying to quit, symptoms of withdrawal start to show.

2.2. Chemical Addiction

2.2.1.  Alcohol Addiction

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Alcohol abuse usually begins with drinking with your peers and escalates until one finds it difficult in discontinuing the constant consumption of alcohol. Gradually it turns to alcoholism, binge drinking, or excessive drinking regularly.

2.2.2.  Drug Abuse

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Photo by Mikail Duran on Unsplash

Drug Abuse is a drug addiction that causes short-term disturbances in the brain, leading to a distorted view of reality. Illegal substances alter the brain and other organs over time, leading to serious addiction.

2.2.3. Prescription Drug Addiction

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Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Prescription drug misuse occurs when you take a prescription for a cause other than the one recommended by your doctor.

Abusing drugs, especially prescription medicines, can alter the way your brain functions. The majority of individuals begin by opting to take these drugs. However, changes in the brain impair your self-control and capacity to make smart judgments over time. Opioids are one of the many prescribed drugs that are often abused by people.

This substance abuse can harm a person’s health. If someone has a chemical addiction, they must get treated as soon as possible.

3. Behavioral Addiction

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Photo by Taylor Williams on Unsplash

If you are doing an activity that you love, it is well and good but if that activity is what you think about all day, and it starts affecting your job and your relationships with people around you, then you might have behavioral addiction. Behavioral addiction occurs when an individual becomes addicted to the pleasurable sensations that occur from particular activities and begins to act obsessively on those habits despite knowing about the negative consequences.

3.1. Behavioral Addiction

  • Shopping
  • Food
  • Sex
  • TV
  • Social media
  • Internet
  • Pornography
  • Using computers and/or cell phones
  • Video Game
  • Work
  • Exercise
  • Spiritual obsession
  • Seeking pain
  • Self-harm
  • Gambling

3.2. Symptoms

  • Using the habit to deal with unpleasant feelings
  • Symptoms of withdrawal include irritation, restlessness, anxiety, or despair
  • The urge to continue the behavior even if it is affecting their life negatively.
  • Spending a significant amount of time engaging in the habit.

While behavioral addictions may not have the same impact on a person’s health as chemical addictions, they may undoubtedly influence other aspects of life.

4. How To Break An Addiction

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Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

Now the main question arises can you quit an addiction? The answer is yes, you can. How to break an addiction is a tough question, and the journey of actually overcoming your addiction is way more difficult. The following steps can help you in breaking an addiction.

4.1. Acknowledge Your Addiction

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Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

The first step in how to break an addiction is accepting that you have developed an addictive pattern. Being in denial of your addiction or thinking that it is just a part of your old habits will do you no good.

Start by naming your addiction, and what it is that you have become addicted to. It can be a type of drug, alcohol addiction, online gaming, tobacco misuse, or something else once you have recognized the type of addictive behavior, move on to the next step.

The next step in how to break an addiction will be acknowledging the negative consequences of your addiction on your body, lifestyle, and your relationships.

Addictions are known to deteriorate health, the routine that was once followed takes a nosedive, and all the relations with your friends and family are severely affected. When you start to consider the negative effects of your addiction, the path how to break an addiction will be a little easier.

To become motivated when breaking an addiction, writing down what your life will look like once you have overcome the addiction will be very helpful. Mention everything that you would want to do once you have broken your addictive behavior, going out with friends, taking up a new hobby, spending time with your family.

4.2. Set A Goal

Once you have completed the step of acknowledging your addiction, the next step in how to break an addiction will be setting a goal. Select a period in which you hope to break free from your addiction.

Keep in mind that some addictions, like drug abuse, are not easily broken; they take time. Setting a realistic goal is necessary. The time limit of the goal should not be less as you will not be able to achieve it, but it should also not be very high as people can get distracted and forget about their set goal.

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Once you have decided on the time, share it with your close ones so that they can support you through your journey and motivate you in your hard times.

4.3. Seek Professional Treatment

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Photo by Francisco Venâncio on Unsplash

It may not feel like it right now, but you will need all the help you can receive on your road to recovery of how to break an addiction. A lot of individuals struggle with being addicted, and for that, there are numerous organizations set up, and treatment centers that act as support systems, helping you stay motivated, offering services to aid your journey, and encouraging you to try again if you relapse.

Consider contacting a therapist or mental health expert in your region if at all feasible since they will be able to assist you in developing the optimal treatment plan. A skilled therapist, especially one who specializes in alcohol and drug addiction, may also assess your requirements and advise you on how to continue receiving the medical supervision you require.

4.4. Identify Your Triggers

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Photo by Amritanshu Sikdar on Unsplash

Everyone has a set of triggers that compel them to engage in their behaviors automatically.

Being aware of the exact situations, places, people, feelings, and other variables that drive your desire to use alcohol, drug addiction, or any behavior can help you devise a strategy to avoid these triggers and reduce your chances of indulging in the addiction.

For example, avoiding certain places like restaurants where you used to drink or shopping malls where you can’t help but buy everything that you see will help you in keeping your addiction treatment in check.

Knowing what can trigger your addiction will help you in the journey of breaking an addiction.

4.5. Start Slowly

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Photo by Clemens van Lay on Unsplash

Once you have recognized your addictive pattern, set a goal, talked to a professional, and made a list of all your triggers, it is now time to act upon your addiction.

The one thing that you have to keep in mind when you are asking the question of how to break an addiction is that starting slowly is the key. The addictive habit should be broken down slowly instead of going cold turkey.

If you decide to quit your addiction on impulse, the symptoms of withdrawal could be very harmful to your health, and you are bound to relapse, which will be no good.

4.6. Handle The Withdrawal

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Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

The most difficult and important step in how to break an addiction is handling the withdrawal. If you complete this stage, you will be closer to breaking your addiction.

Withdrawal can be best handled by distractions. If you need to be distracted, try exercising, picking up a new habit or activity, dancing, or hanging out with friends. Joining a sports club or other types of support groups will help you in meeting new people and begin a new segment of life that is free of being an addict.

Addicts frequently use their addiction to cope with stress. The coping strategy is lost when you quit. This is why, ideally before leaving, you should have other coping mechanisms in place.

Positive social contacts can increase the release of hormones that inspire emotions of happiness and contentment without the need for medicines.

Avoid the triggers that make you want to revert to your previous ways. For a period, you may need to create an entirely new routine until the edge wears off.

The mental load of withdrawal is immense, and you will probably think that it is better to just resume the habit. Do not fall into that trap, and do not give up on yourself when things get difficult. In the end, every ounce of suffering will be worthwhile.

Most people slip in their journey of overcoming addiction, which is called relapse, getting back to addictive habits. This does not mean that you have failed your journey of quitting the bad habits; it is just a step back. Do not get disheartened by the relapse; consider it as going in the right direction.

If you make a mistake, think about what happened and what modifications you can make if it occurs again.

5. Overcome Addiction

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Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

If the above-mentioned steps do not answer the question of how to break an addiction, seek help. There are various types of addiction treatment plans, like taking preventative medicine and behavioral therapies that are available that are decided on the type of addiction a person is going through.

Some of the available addiction treatment is as follows:

5.1. Detoxification

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Photo by Onur Binay on Unsplash

Detoxification entails removing a drug from the body and reducing withdrawal symptoms. This is advantageous since drug withdrawal can result in life-threatening bodily effects.

Detox is often used in conjunction with other therapies since it does not address the underlying behavioral reasons for getting addicted.

5.2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, assists people in recognizing and changing habits of thinking that are associated with drug use. CBT is an effective treatment option because it can be used to treat a wide range of addictions, including addictions to food, prescription drug, alcohol abuse, and many more.

CBT can be used in conjunction with other treatment strategies.

5.3. Contingency Management (CM)

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CM is a type of treatment that uses incentives, such as coupons redeemable for tangible things to encourage positive behavioral change. CM may be used to treat a wide range of addictions, including alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.

5.4. Dialectical Behavior Therapy, DBT

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Image by Benjamin Balazs from Pixabay

Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT, is used to assist you in changing bad behaviors, managing powerful emotions, and improving relationships. It entails attention and acceptance.

DBT aims to educate people on how to control their emotions, how to deal with stress, mental well-being, and how to have good relationships.

5.5. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

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Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, or REBT, is based on the theory that emotional disturbances like self-pity, shame, guilt, sadness, tension, and anxiety are essentially self-constructed by our ideas and belief systems. It aims to address this frequently unreasonable and self-defeating thinking.

REBT’s purpose is to help you comprehend that the ability of rational thinking is within you and not dependent on external conditions or pressures.

5.6. 12-Step Facilitation

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It is a type of group treatment that acknowledges that being addicted has a variety of negative repercussions that might be social, emotional, or spiritual.

This style of treatment begins with acceptance, then progresses to surrendering to a higher power, and finally to participating in regular support groups session.

5.7. Using Medication-Assisted Treatment

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Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

When paired with behavior therapy, using medicines can play a crucial role in rehabilitation. Certain drugs can be used to suppress cravings, boost mood, and minimize addictive behaviors.

However, drugs are most typically used during detoxification to control withdrawal symptoms. The medicine prescribed will differ based on the drug to which the person is addicted.

The usage of medicine helps to avoid relapse or the return to using the addictive substance after recovering from addiction. For example, Disulfiram is a medicine that can help interrupt the cycle of alcohol consumption, as it causes an unpleasant response when people use alcohol.

People who are addicted, as well as those who suffer from other mental health issues, will benefit from this treatment, such as antidepressants for depression.

6. Conclusion

The journey of how to break an addiction will never be easy, if you have succeeded in it celebrate your accomplishment. The road to recovery is very challenging, and one should be rewarded for completing it.

Different types of addiction will require different types of treatment. It will also depend on every person how respond to various treatments. Some might get better just by using medicines, and others might also require therapy.

The path of overcoming addiction should not be covered alone; take the support of your family members and friends or seek help from support groups that are formed to help people with addictions.

People who are addicted require all the love, understanding, and support that they can get. It is impossible to heal from addiction without support. It turns out that loved ones have a huge influence on the addict.


1.  How can I recognize if I have an addiction?

A: Recognizing addiction can be challenging, but some common signs include an inability to control or stop the behavior, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit, neglecting important responsibilities or relationships, and continued use despite negative consequences.

2. Should I quit my addiction to cold turkey or gradually?

A: The approach to quitting an addiction can depend on the substance or behavior involved, as well as individual circumstances. In some cases, quitting “cold turkey” (abruptly and completely) might be appropriate, while in other situations, a gradual reduction or harm reduction approach may be more effective. It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or addiction specialist to determine the best approach for your specific situation.

3. How long does it take to overcome an addiction?

A: The duration to overcome an addiction varies greatly depending on several factors, including the type and severity of addiction, individual circumstances, available support, and personal commitment. Recovery is often considered a lifelong process, as addiction can have long-lasting effects. However, significant progress can be made within weeks to months, and ongoing support and maintenance are crucial for sustained recovery.


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