Overcome Addictions Naturally

 

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Overcome Addictions Naturally

Overview

Some experts insist that every person is prone to at least one addictive behavior. Their logic seems defensible when we realize just how many different varieties of addictions exist. Sure, there are the conventional addictions like methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. However, addictions can involve more than substances. This is where gambling, pornography, media, and workaholism get added to the list.

If a tendency to some sort of addiction is really part of the human condition, then it behooves every one of us to learn simple strategies to deal with addictive tendencies.

Not surprisingly, many people can break free of their addictions for a while, but it is not uncommon to slip back into those destructive behaviors. The good news is this: everyone has the capacity to develop new enjoyments—and truly enjoy a life free of all those “attractive” addictions! A comprehensive lifestyle approach is at the very foundation of addiction-free living. The LifeStart principles encapsulate many of these approaches.

Are You Ready to Make a Break?

Most people go through the following sequence before they actually become free of an addiction:

  • Recognize the problem
  • Decide to act
  • Set a quit date
  • Act on their decision

And remember, when it comes to addictive behaviors, success usually only comes if you decide to make a clean break with your addictions. (For example, just having one cigarette per week is not usually a viable decision for a nicotine addict.)

Where are you at when it comes to your addictions? If you know you have to break free, but you’ve not set a quit date, what is holding you back?

True, there are some times that may work better than others. However, be careful. When it comes to many addictions, that “perfect time” may never come. Don’t make the mistake of putting off necessary changes indefinitely. If you’re having trouble doing it on your own, get help. Choose a professional, a spiritual advisor, a faith community, or a friend.

Once you’ve cut your ties with an addiction, there are five simple principles that can help you keep on track…

Simple Principle #1—Avoid High-Risk Settings

Let’s face it. Some settings are much more dangerous than others. For example, if an alcoholic just went through a medical detox program and finally said “good bye” to his liquor, meeting his friends in a bar is probably not a good decision. However, high risk settings don’t only involve places. They can also involve our mental setting.

Those in 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have been telling us for decades that we increase our risk for relapse when we find ourselves in high risk situations—mentally. They tell us to mentally “halt” if we find ourselves in one of these dangerous states:

  • H (hungry)
  • A (angry)
  • L (lonely)
  • T (tired)

Every one of these high-risk situations has to do with lifestyle. For example, hunger involves the F in LifeStart: food. If you are not eating at regular intervals and choosing high-quality nutrition, you’ll be more likely to slip back into your old addiction.

The bottom line is this: address the specific problem rather than turning to your addictive behavior for solace. If you’re hungry, eat. If tired, get some rest.

Simple Principle #2—Don’t Focus on the Addiction

Once you break free, you must change your thinking if you want the greatest chances for long-term success. Instead of focusing on the addiction you have laid aside, you want to focus on what you will do instead. For example, don’t walk around repeating, “I’m not going to smoke.” Instead, tell yourself what you are going to do, perhaps: “I will exercise every day”, or “I’m going to eat three regular meals.” One of the antidotes for addictive behavior is a disciplined and structured life. The more regular your life, the harder it is for addictions to gain a foothold.

Proper eating habits can help stabilize your mood. Why not focus your mental energies on how you will implement such behaviors. Think about it this way: as I described in my Brain Health Revolution DVD series, carbohydrate-rich, plant-based diets are best diet for optimizing brain neurotransmitter levels. Since, this in turn can help you with stress, anxiety, why not challenge yourself to think of more ways to incorporate carrots, potatoes, beans, fruits, and vegetables into your diet?

Roll out of bed in the morning focused on this task rather than chanting: “I’m not going to drink, I’m not going to drink.”

Simple Principle #3—Exercise Daily

Exercise is a powerful aid when it comes to dealing with addictions. Physical activity actually helps balance your mind. It helps calm you down if stressed. It buoys your spirits when feeling low. Make exercise a regular part of your day. For many people, early morning exercise is best.

Many Americans start their day off with a bad decision when it comes to the addiction-free living front: they reach for their java for an early morning pick-me-up. Caffeine may help to rev your engines, but it is a far cry from exercise when it comes to fostering mental and emotional control.

Did you know, for example, that caffeine use often makes it more difficult to change addictive behaviors? You see, caffeine is not only a stimulant, but it also facilitates bad habit pathways in the brain. That’s right. Bad habits actually represent physical pathways in your brain. When you consume caffeine, it “greases” those bad habit pathways, making it easier to slide right back into your old habits. For example, research indicates former smokers are much more likely to return to nicotine use if caffeine retains a place in their lives.

So why not break free of the caffeine at the same time you’re saying goodbye to your other bad habits? Start your day with a brisk walk rather than a cup of coffee. You may be surprised to finally gain the upper hand in your struggle with addictions.

Simple Principle #4—Prioritize Interpersonal Relationships

Interact with other people, be accountable to someone when it comes to living addition-free, or join a support community. This might be something you have never done before. It may even be a bit frightening. However, there is nothing like the power of group support. In fact, many of the world’s most successful addiction recovery programs are based largely on the power of peer support, take Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for example.

Not all interpersonal relationships are helpful. Avoid people who encourage your addiction. You may need to make new friends to step away into a safer environment.

Simple Principle #5—Trust in Divine Power

Is there really a “higher power” that AA asserts is there to help in the area of addictions? Your LifeStart seminar team is convinced there really is a loving God who wants to help you overcome your addictive behaviors. This was not always a unanimous opinion even in our own ranks. However, over the years we’ve seen compelling evidences of God’s power to help people break free of addictive behaviors. In fact, we’ve observed that individuals who disconnect from their addictions because of a spiritual conviction have the shortest trajectory from breaking free to developing new, craving-free lifestyles. Consider this also: if God is convincing you to make a change, He will not ask you to do something unless He is fully committed to helping you succeed.

Summary

You can break free, even if you don’t embrace all the simple principles mentioned above. However, we encourage you to make a decision to live an addiction-free life. Realize this as well: some addictions are best broken with professional assistance. If you are an alcoholic or addicted to other substances, we recommend working with a medical professional. Some such addictions can have life-threating complications if you quit cold turkey on your own. The bottom line is this: consult with your physician if you have any questions about the safety of saying “no” to any specific addiction.

When it’s all said and done, remember this: LifeStart offers practical help whether you’re making habit changes on your own or under medical supervision. That’s right, you gain the upper hand when it comes to addiction-free living by following the LifeStart principles: liquids (drinking more water), interpersonal relationships, nutritious food, exercise, sunlight, temperance, air, adequate rest, and trust in Divine Power.

To learn more about the nine strategies behind the LifeStart program, download the FREE LifeStart eBook. For best results, consult with your healthcare providers and find a local support center where you can surround yourself with a community of supportive peers. Our online directory will help you locate such individuals in your community. Also, on our website you’ll find a variety of resources to help you on your journey to an addiction-free life. These resources include books, DVDs, and other health services that I and other medical professionals have endorsed.

Take the Next Step...

Join the 30-day LifeStart Online Program and get daily motivation plus personalized support to help you live sharper, leaner, longer, and better—in 30 days or less!

About the Presenter

David DeRose, MD, MPH
Host, LifeStart Seminars

For over 25 years Dr. David DeRose has been helping people improve their health through motivational presentations and natural therapies. He brings solid credentials as a board-certified specialist in both Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine in addition to holding a master’s degree in Public Health with an emphasis on Health Promotion and Health Education. Known for his engaging presentations, Dr. DeRose is an award-winning public speaker, published medical researcher, syndicated talk radio host, and experienced college teacher.

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