THE SUREST WAY TO OVERCOME AN ADDICTION: Replace it with another one
According to the website of Psychology today, addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance like alcohol, cocaine, nicotine or engages in an activity like gambling, sex, shopping that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities like work, relationships, or health (Psychology today, 2015). It simply means having no control over what you do, take, or use despite the consequences on your life. While modern pharmacology and psychology has improved the general management of addicts, there is still high recurrence rate among addicts trying to recover. According to Jacque Wilson-CNN (2012), relapse rates for substance abuse range from 60-90% in the first year of sobriety. This is serious.
Stoops WW and Rush CR (2014) have revealed a conclusion that there is no effective pharmacotherapy for any form of psycho stimulant addiction. This makes us come back to Taylor SB’s observation of 2013 that, in order to be effective, all pharmacological or biologically based treatments must be integrated into other forms of addiction rehabilitation such as cognitive behavioral therapy, individual and group psychotherapy, behavioral modification therapy and many more (Taylor SB, 2013). All this brings me to my today’s point of replacing an addiction with something else, call it another addiction.
Since this is not an academic article, my writing is free and obeys few, if not nothing, rules. So let us explore one of Jesus’ teaching in the book of Matthew 12:43-45. In this preaching, Jesus says that when an evil spirit [harmful addiction] is chased out of a person, the spirit goes out and finding no any other place to dwell, it comes back saying, ‘I will go back to the house I left’. Jesus continues that after the evil spirit finding the house empty, clean, swept, and ready of accommodation, it goes out and calls more seven evil spirits and they all come and dwell in this person causing him more trouble than before. It is even better to note that the seven more spirits are more evil than the original one. Okay, let us apply the text.
According to the psychologist Dr. Phil, we never break habits. If we want to get rid of bad behaviors, we have to replace them with something positive-something that will make us stronger, instead of weaker. We need to work on identifying positive behaviors that would make good replacements for our addictions. In the above text from the bible, Jesus is clear: We do not just chase out the devil and we are done, we must replace him with something better, the spirit of God. So when the evil one returns, he finds the room occupied and protected. Chances are we cannot break a habit or addiction without replacing it with another one and thus the crucial points is to choose well our substitution behaviors or addictions.
Both scientific literature and the above bible verse predict that the addicts we substitute for the original ones could even be more dangerous and thus determining which course to take is vital. According to Dr. Phil and addictions website, our addictions have causes and triggers and unless such triggers are dealt with, we will have relapses or substitute our originals with more dangerous ones. So the best way to select our substitutions is to first know our addictions, what we are trying to run away from. Addictions come as a result of trying to feel good about ourselves and gaining some composure. When we are trying to stop our addictions, we are no longer receiving these pleasures, happiness, and feel good signals to our brains, a situation that can lead us to adopting other more dangerous addictions or relapse into the original ones.
Thus finding something to keep sending us these feel good feelings is critical and cannot be dodged (substituting our addictions with more positive and health behaviors). Exercises have been proved to send these pleasure signals into our brains, health relationships, learning new skills or developing those we already have, and searching for our passions and turning them into our hobbies are the commonest means of substituting addictions. According to many sources, finding what makes a person happy and feel good can lead to positive and more fulfilling life styles. Simply, we do not just stop the addiction, we do something else that will supply us or provide us what we lacked or needed in the first place that made us choose an addiction as an escape or solution.
What is the point now? You cannot stop an addiction without replacing it with something else. Much effort should be focused at knowing the right and health substitution for an addiction, instead of trying to stop what you already have. That is the surest way of overcoming any addiction or sin for our matter.
The Complete You Project