How to Successfully Quit Addiction

By: Brian Diggins

How to Successfully Quit Addiction

By: Brian Diggins, Director of Recovery Resources
Alcohol Support

One tool you can use to successfully quit addiction is Guided Imagery or Visualization. Both work about the same way and what it boils down to is this, in guided imagery the “patient” freely fantasizes about a situation until they reach an irresolvable impasse, at which point the therapist will lead the person to a safe resolution. In Visualization the person envisions themselves as performing a task successfully, and reinforces that success with practice. Guided Imagery is very popular in Europe, whereas Visualization is quite common in the United States, most notably in the field of sports psychology. Personally I have used visualization or a variant thereof in my own recovery and have found it quite useful.
With addictive behavior, you can envision going through a tense or difficult situation without smoking, drinking alcohol using a drug, gambling, shopping compulsively, whatever your habit may be, you envision yourself choosing not to succumb to the temptation. While at the same time you refocus your perspective on the tense or difficult situation as to ways you can positively affect change to bring about a bearable solution. An example of this could be, say an alcoholic was tense over a dinner he was required to attend with his mother in law. Rather than relying on his addiction, he envisioned a scenario where he calmly addressed her probing questions with a smile and after she had finished offered to get her another cup of coffee or showed her pictures of her grandkids. He had changed his perception of the situation to enable him to affect a positive successful resolution rather than going off the deep end.
You are probably saying to yourselves, “Well that sounds great on paper, but how do I do that in real life?” The answer is practice, practice, practice. Start small, work on easy issues and develop the skill first. Let it become engrained in your thinking process till it becomes automatic. As your ability to use it successfully increases, you should try it in more difficult situations. It all comes a lot easier than it seems. You have to remember life is all about choices and no one, and by that, I mean no one, always makes the right choices all the time. That is not a license to fail, it is a realistic assessment, so when you do slip and fall down, you pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, figure out where you went wrong, and get back on with your life. Beating yourself up will do nothing for you but make you feel lousy. However learning from your mistakes is not such a bad feeling, because now that you are armed with the knowledge of what you did wrong you can use that to your advantage next time you are in that situation; right? Knowledge is power, and powerful people are usually successful people, and isn’t that your goal here? There are lots of other tools you need to use to successfully quit an addiction, but I like to use the ones that have a proven track record of success. For example, a good alcohol support group. You can find my favorite one in the resource box below.

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