No matter the addiction -- drugs, gambling, shopping, smoking, alcohol or more -- people who want to kick their habit this year might find help in a new Harvard University publication.
“Overcoming Addiction: Paths toward recovery” offers guidance for breaking unwanted addictive habits. The advice applies universally, because what all addictions have in common, the Harvard experts say, is the way the brain responds to pleasurable experiences.
Five Simple Steps to Breaking the AddictionTo break the additive behavior and patterns, researchers at Harvard University recommend the following steps to increase the chances of success:
- Seek help and create a support network -- get input, advice and support from peers as well as professionals. Start with a doctor or a community mental health center for advice, a plan and -- if necessary -- medication to help with the break. Ask family, friends and co-workers for encouragement and backup.
- Set a quit date -- some people find it helpful to choose a significant date, a birthday or anniversary, perhaps.
- Make a change in environment -- removing reminders and temptations from the home and workplace can make the break easier. For example, ridding the home of alcohol, bottle openers and wine or drink glasses might help a person trying to stop drinking. Don’t let others bring reminders into the home. And, if necessary, break relations with people who enable the condition or additive behavior.
- Learn new skills and activities -- find something to replace the addiction and help conquer urges. Many people find that exercise is a good substitute activity to help fight temptation.
- Review past attempts at quitting -- note what worked, what did not, and what might have led to falling back into old habits. Then, make appropriate changes.
Additional Tips to RememberAdditional helpful hints any person should remember when they are trying to break free from a habit or addiction include:
- Surrounding oneself with close, supportive friends and family. When trying to stop a an unhealthy behavior, friends and family can be great support, can offer encouragement and insight. They can also pick a person up when they are down.
- Change the life routine. -- Addictions take up a lot of free time. Smoker often find themselves with an enormous amount of time of their hands and don’t know what to do with it. Many times, they will simply fill it with smoking! Pick up a new hobby like reading or pick up the phone and call a friend. Take a walk, exercise or play a game, anything not to think about all the healthy free time now available.