How to Overcome Addiction

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

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Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

How to overcome addiction typically starts when you withdraw and detox from the substance of abuse and then time at an addiction treatment center like Renaissance Recovery’s California rehab

There are many variables that impact the scope and severity of withdrawal symptoms. These include:

  • The substances involved
  • The length of substance use
  • Your overall health
  • Whether you are detoxing at home or in a treatment center

In the case of more severe alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder, medically supervised detox is generally advisable. FDA-approved medications can help soothe the intensity of withdrawal symptoms, while at the same time minimizing your cravings for the substance in question. You will also benefit from qualified medical staff on hand to intervene in the event of any complications.

With detox complete, you’ll be ready to get down to the business of overcoming addiction over the long haul. Addiction is a chronic and relapsing disease, according to NIDA’s definition, the most widely used definition of addiction in recovery circles.

This means overcoming addiction for good involves staving off relapse while undergoing behavioral change through psychotherapy and counseling, and taking advantage of medication-assisted treatment as appropriate.

Now, before you move ahead with that, a few words on the most effective ways to navigate the discomfort and cravings characterizing alcohol withdrawal or drug withdrawal.

How to Overcome Addiction Withdrawal

If you commit to recovery from abusing substances, you should start by understanding that recovery is not a process, but rather a lifelong event. Instead of allowing this thought to fill you with dread, use this as a comforting way of removing any pressure from yourself and focusing on recovering fully rather than rushing to hit arbitrary time points.

Considering recovery as a process, then, a key component of this process is withdrawal. Until your body is purged of toxins, the business of recovery can’t get off the ground.

Here are some pointers for streamlining the detox and withdrawal process:

1) Attend a medically-supervised detox program

Attending a formal medical drug detox program is considered the optimal method for the management of withdrawal symptoms.

In the case of severe addictions, withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and emotional, and in some cases dangerous or deadly.

With alcohol withdrawal, for instance, up to 5% of people withdrawing will experience delirium tremens, a potentially lethal form of alcohol withdrawal.

A medical detox program lasts from 5 to 10 days, and you’ll benefit from around-the-clock care, alongside a medically managed detox. This will help to keep cravings and symptoms of withdrawal in check, helping you to build the firmest foundation for recovery.

2) Join a 12-step support group

Many people in all stages of recovery find enormous support from 12-step groups like AA and NA.

You get the chance to communicate with others in recovery, drawing strength from their struggles and achievements as they follow the same path of sobriety you are pursuing.

If you dislike the idea of a 12-step support group, there are secular alternatives like SMART Recovery programs fulfilling the same role of providing powerful peer support, but viewed through a more objective lens.

3) Communicate openly with your loved ones about any struggles on your recovery journey

At all stages of withdrawal and recovery, lean on your friends and family, as well as your therapist or counselor.

Often, simply talking about your problems can help you put them in better perspective, and it can also help you from making rash decisions based on automatic thoughts.

Both counseling and psychotherapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or DBT can help you reframe the way you think, and you can also change the way you behave by formulating healthier coping strategies for life’s stressors that don’t involve a chemical crutch.

If you actively pursue your recovery rather than looking to achieve the bare minimum, you’ll have a much stronger chance of making meaningful change.

4) Get at least thirty minutes of daily exercise

At all stages of withdrawal and recovery, lean on your friends and family, as well as your therapist or counselor.

Often, simply talking about your problems can help you put them in better perspective, and it can also help you from making rash decisions based on automatic thoughts.

Both counseling and psychotherapy like CBT or DBT can help you reframe the way you think, and you can also change the way you behave by formulating healthier coping strategies for life’s stressors that don’t involve a chemical crutch.

If you actively pursue your recovery rather than looking to achieve the bare minimum, you’ll have a much stronger chance of making meaningful change. And when you strip everything else away, this is all that’s required to beat any addiction. Putting it into practice, of course, is the hard part.

While it’s essential to strengthen your mind if you’re looking to learn how to overcome addiction, you should also focus on your body.

Studies show that exercise can reduce both stress and tension, as well as improving sleep quality and self-esteem, all invaluable as your body starts normalizing without substances in the equation.

By exercising for at least thirty minutes daily, you’ll not only lift your mood and build up your body, but you’ll also distract yourself from the inevitable cravings you’ll experience for drink or drugs during withdrawal.

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5) Focus on the quality and quantity of your sleep

Aim to create a sleep schedule that works for you and stick to it. Sleep patterns are often shattered during active addiction, whether from all-night drug binges or from sleeping off the excesses of an alcohol binge until the early afternoon.

If you are well-rested, you’ll find it easier to regulate mood swings, and you’ll also notice the clarity of your thinking improves.

Stick to a fixed sleep schedule, then, and avoid becoming too stimulated before getting into bed. This means avoiding exercise or TV directly before bed. The white light emitted by electronic devices also stops you from dropping off to sleep, so leave that smartphone and tablet alone as you wind down for bed.

6) Eat a balanced diet

What you eat can play a key role in healing your body and mind from the ravages of addiction.

Eat as many healthy, whole foods as possible, while cutting out as many processed foods as possible. Take plenty of protein on board while eating foods with a moderate carb content and not too much unhealthy fat.

If you feel you are lacking in vitamins and nutrients after a long period of abusing alcohol or drugs, consider supplementation to get you back on track. The more rapidly you replace these vital nutrients, the more effectively your system will start recalibrating.

7) Stay properly hydrated

Withdrawal from drinks or drugs is often characterized by dehydration. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to promote healing.

Sometimes, you may be mistaking cravings for simple thirst or hunger, so give your body everything it needs and nothing it doesn’t during withdrawal.

someone learning mindfulness techniques to overcome addiction

8) Embrace mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness can help you to reduce anxiety and depression, as well as soothing physical pain, all potentially valuable during drug or alcohol withdrawal.

By focusing on the present moment, you can reflect upon the reasons for your recovery and reaffirm yourself the many benefits of sobriety set against the ruinous consequences of active addiction. Sometimes, this is all it takes to stay strong in the face of cravings.

9) Practice relaxation techniques, stretching, and yoga

If you find mindfulness useful, branch out and explore some other relaxation techniques.

Yoga and simple stretching can help promote superior blood flow and circulation, while also relieving muscle pain and tension.

Mindfulness meditation helps you harness breathing techniques to clear your mind and relax completely.

10) Investigate holistic therapies

In addition to embracing traditional evidence-based methods of treatment, you should also think about various forms of holistic therapy.

From acupuncture and massage to a spa day, many adjunctive therapies are worth exploring as you embrace the road to recovery.

Getting Over Addiction

With detox and withdrawal set aside, some more general tips on overcoming drug addiction or alcoholism.

1) Admit that you have a problem

Remember that there is no need to wait until you hit rock bottom before admitting that you have a problem with substance abuse.

You can’t make any meaningful progress on the road to recovery until you set denial aside and commit to recovery.

2) Reflect on your addictions and why you are abusing substances

You can use this opportunity to ask yourself why you are abusing alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs. Everyone will have different reasons.

The more you abuse substances, the more tolerance builds, meaning you need more to achieve the same effect. At the same time, the brain undergoes changes to structure and function, specifically in the reward center.

As you start probing why you use substances, you’ll have a better idea of how to most effectively engage with treatment.

It might be, for instance, that you are self-medicating the symptoms of depression with alcohol. Initially, you may have experienced some fleeting relief from your symptoms, but you’ll end up inflaming both conditions.

For others, substance abuse is a response to boredom, stress, or unhappiness.

If you want to change your life, you’ll need to change your inner world, and the firmer a fix you have on the reasons for your substance abuse, the more meaningfully you can fight back.

3) Investigate your treatment options

Explore the various options you have for addiction treatment. This does not necessarily need to mean packing your bags and heading for a month or more in rehab.

Most severe addictions, though, require the structure and support offered by inpatient rehab, also known as residential rehab. Here, you remain at the treatment center for the duration of the 30-day to 90-day program. You will benefit from MAT (medication-assisted treatment) delivered in combination with talk therapies like DBT or CBT.

Outpatient treatment allows you to remain at home while attending a session of therapy or counseling each day at a treatment center.

For those requiring more support and time commitment, an IOP (intensive outpatient program) consists of at least 9 to 15 contact hours per week at a treatment center. The full-time alternative is a PHP or partial hospitalization program.

With outpatient treatment, you have access to similar services without the cost or restrictions of inpatient treatment.

Speak with your healthcare provider to start establishing the best possible course of treatment for your addiction.

4) Build a robust support network

Always ensure you have a strong support network as you pursue the new but challenging path of recovery from addiction.

From friends and family to 12-step support groups, therapy, and counseling, use all the resources at your disposal to fight back against addiction.

5) Commit fully to lifelong recovery

With all the thinking done, it’s time to make a firm commitment and to engage with the treatment you need to unchain yourself from addiction.

How to Overcome Addiction with God

Everyone has a different approach to recovering from addiction, and some people ask how to overcome addiction with God.

While 12-step support groups are not overtly religious, several of the steps involved mentioning a higher power as you see it.

Ultimately, you can choose to focus on the spiritual component of recovery if this makes a good fit. If not, you can just as readily face up to changing your behavior on your own terms.

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Overcome Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

If you’re ready to claim back the life addiction stole, we’re here to make the whole process as comfortable as possible here at Renaissance Recovery’s Orange County rehab.

With our personalized outpatient treatment programs for alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder, we can help you whatever the nature of your addiction. Whether you want to know how to overcome heroin addiction, or you’re looking to stop binge drinking or taking opioid painkillers, you’re in safe hands at Renaissance.

We use evidence-based MAT (medication-assisted treatment), counseling – both individual and group – and psychotherapies like CBT for a whole-body approach to addiction treatment that includes holistic rehab.

The hardest part is getting started, so reach out to Renaissance right now at 866.330.9449.

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Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country

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