How to Overcome Addiction


Addiction is an inability to stop using a substance or engaging in a behaviour even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. It can also be thought of as a dysfunction of the brain system that involves reward, motivation, and memory.  

The following is a list of common and addictive coping strategies that some may use: food, alcohol, smoking, drugs, gambling, shopping, sex, masturbation, porn, work, exercise, tattoo’s, piercings, sadism, masochism.

Causes of addiction may include: having family members who also have addictions, genetic vulnerability, exposure to addictive substances, peer pressure, lack of social support, poor coping mechanisms, excessive stress, trauma, childhood neglect, and childhood abuse.


– Every year, worldwide, alcohol is the cause of 5.3% of deaths (or 1 in every 20).

– Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 7 million deaths per year.

– Almost 21 million Americans have at least 1 addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment.

– About 130 Americans die every day from an Opioid overdose.

Tip 1: Reasons to quit

Familiarising yourself with the reasons to quit, and reminding yourself on a regular basis of all the benefits from living a life free of addiction can help to motivate you to break free from the grips of addiction and live a healthier and more balanced life. You could write the following reasons down, store them on your phone, or keep some post-it notes nearby. 

1) Mental health – Addictions such as alcohol or drugs may worsen certain underlying mental health problems. In addition, certain substances can lead to drug-induced psychosis.

2) Physical health – Numerous addictions can have harmful physical effects, especially alcohol, tobacco, and overeating.

3) Finances – Most addictions are expensive, and can take a huge toll on a persons finances over time, so breaking the addiction has monetary benefits.

4) Reputation – The reality is that stigma and judgment towards mental health problems still exist, and therefore being free of addiction will generally be better for your reputation.

5) Time – Not spending time thinking about and satisfying the needs of an addiction, will allow you to have more time to spend with friends and family, or on your hobbies and goals.

6) Freedom – Being free of an addiction can feel liberating and bring a new sense of freedom in your life.

7) Self respect – Overcoming an addiction can also do wonders for your self-esteem and self-respect. 

8) Friends – You will have more time to spend with friends, and they will not have to worry about you as much.

9) Family – You will also have more time to spend with family, and they will not have to worry about you as much.

10) Children – For those who have children or are thinking about having them, being sober and drug-free will lead to a safer and healthier environment for them.

Tip 2: Alternatives

Having a list of alternative activities and hobbies that do not involve addictive or harmful substances is necessary to break the pattens of addiction. Below is a list of just some ideas to try:

– Reading

– Going to the gym

– Taking up a new course

– Listening to music

– Playing a musical instrument

– Listening to Podcasts/audiobooks

– Going travelling

– Watching a film

– Writing

– Sports

– Learn a new language

– Muscle relaxation techniques

– Yoga

– Socialising with friends or family

– DIY project

– Gardening

– Go for a walk in nature

Tip 3: Willpower

Will power, or self-control, is often overlooked or dismissed as a method for both preventing and breaking addictions. For many, it is believed to be purely a biological problem, or one that is completely out of one’s control. But for others, it is a case of mind over matter. A more realistic and balanced understanding is that recovery is the combination of the acceptance of one’s problem, the willingness to take responsibility for recovery, and the motivation to work a program of recovery, and can be helped through the support and assistance of friends and family. Without any effort, motivation, or will, recovery is essentially impossible. That doesn’t mean to say a lack of willpower is the main cause of addiction, or that it is a simple matter to cure yourself, but nevertheless willpower plays a role and knowing that you have the power to change if you really want can be a motivating force that drives the recovery process.

Below are a few ideas that may help to develop your willpower, and make overcoming addiction a more attainable goal.

1) Affirmations – Using affirmations such as “I can do this”, “I have the power to choose”, “I will overcome this” may help to remind you of untapped inner strength. 

2) Goal – Set a goal or a milestone and stick to it. When it gets difficult, focus on the milestone more than the pain.

3) Reward – Give yourself a reward for reaching milestones, such as listening to your favourite music, watching your favourite film, or socialising with your closest friends.

4) Endurance – Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth, endure the difficulty that can come from breaking a bad habit and embrace the challenge of self-improvement.

Recommended Videos

Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong | Johann Hari –

Why The War on Drugs Is a Huge Failure –

Addiction (Kurzgesagt Archived video) –

The Best Explanation of Addiction I’ve Ever Heard – Dr. Gabor Maté –


“The opposite of addiction is connection.” ~ Johann Hari

“It is impossible to understand addiction without asking what relief the addict finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behaviour.” ~ Gabor Mate

“The first question in addiction is not ‘why the addiction’, but ‘why the pain’?” ~ Gabor Mate

“The addiction wasn’t your problem; your problem was that you had a lot of emotional pain you didn’t know what to do with.” ~ Gabor Mate

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ~ A.A. Milne

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ~ Confucius

“The man who says he can, and the man who says he can not, are both correct.” ~ Confucius (picture)

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