Sounds easy. Well, it’s not and at the same time it is, once you go through the inevitable stages. I know from experience and from studying my own addictive personality that once an addict, always an addict. I like to think this way to be sure I am well aware that I suffer this self-destructive tendency and can become addicted to almost anything. We addicts seem to have this drive to get hooked to anything that will remove us from experiencing the painful side of life by indulging in addictive escapism activities, all the while hoping all our troubles will disappear. They don’t, they get worse.
Having said this, I can attest that when I gave up drinking and other addictions, it wasn’t through the exertion of willpower. Willpower doesn’t work for me because it feels like a straight jacket: it means trying to do something I really don’t want to do, so if I get through two days of struggle this way, it will be short-lived for sure.
To get clean from a substance, or any addiction; be it food, nail-biting, or overeating, you have to not only want to quit but to find a powerful need to quit. I quit because I needed to work and wanted to. Work somehow was my life and I couldn’t allow that to go to hell. When I stopped biting my nails, it was out of need, not want.
How to get to the need stage?
We all have our road to tread. We might hit bottom and that will create the need, or our repeated tries to quit one day become a need so strong, that the side effects of quitting don’t matter anyone. You know you need to get out, and from that crucial realization comes the strength to free yourself from the addiction.
When you are willing, you surrender and your survival instinct kicks in. But it might take a while. As long as you know and acknowledge you are in a downward spiral, you are actually on your way up and ready to become clean.
I must credit Augusten Burroughs for this blog. He made me finally get what had happened to me and how I quit in his new book: This is how. And if you really want to understand addiction read Dry. Amazing, funny, deeply moving love story of addiction.