Before I get to the steps to break an addiction, it is important to understand that a person cannot be happy if they are deliberately doing something they know is harmful for them.

A person addicted to anything, including a person who has an eating disorder, is addicted to alcohol, or drugs, cigarettes or even exercise cannot truly be happy. It is not possible for happiness to come to someone whom is harming the physical body that carries them through life on a regular basis. They are harming themselves. 

A person can only be happy in the proportion that they love themselves (3), and, they can only love another in the same amount, and not more than they love themselves (4), so getting rid of an addiction is also the foundation of creating great loving relationships. 

To love yourself, you must be kind and act lovingly towards your body and soul. Pumping smoke, drugs, unhealthy foods or alcohol into your body or over exercising is not an act of kindness towards your body and therefore not an act of kindness towards yourself. In fact, those of us whom are addicted to something understand that the reason we are going forth with the addiction IS because of the fact that we are not in a loving state towards ourselves. We use the addiction as a kind of compensation to make us feel good (although even for a limited time period) and to feel in control of our life situation etc, whereas in fact we have decided to give up control because we feel that we cannot cope with the reality of the real situation at hand, and we turn to the addiction to give us a false feeling of control. 

Anyone with an addiction that compromises their health, must stop the addiction in order to achieve control over their life and achieve happiness.

Some people are just not aware that some of their habits may be harmful to them, nor do they know, or perhaps even want to know, to what extent their habit is harmful.

Smoking is slightly different in this respect because on every pack of cigarettes there is information that states either that smoking kills, or causes cancer, etc. But this perhaps does not really frighten someone whom hasn't had someone close die of cancer.

The first step in stopping an addiction is understanding what is going on in our bodies physically that makes us want to continue the addiction even after we seem to understand the detrimental effects it is having on our health and life. 

The body is built for survival. When we are under stress, pain, suffering or anything that causes an imbalance physically/biochemically, the body releases stress hormones, like cortisol and epinephrine for example, that make us feel in a state of HIGH (6).

The reason behind this biochemical involuntary action of our body is so that we can survive the harm that is interpreted by our body as potentially dangerous.

Due to this HIGH, we may become addicted to what our body interprets as a potentially hazardous situation. Due to the release of the stress hormones, we stay addicted, and sometimes even need more of the addictive element to get to the same high feeling.

This is why it is so difficult for us to stop the addictive behaviour. 

We don't really want to stop because of the good feeling sensation that we get by the release of cortisol and epinephrine, and not necessarily from the addictive element.

Once our body stops receiving the addictive material, it stops releasing the hormone altogether for a short period until we are rebalanced again. The halt of release of these two feel good stress hormones is what makes stopping an addiction so difficult. You go from high release of the hormones to no release of the hormones, until the body reaches the new state of homeostasis. This takes time, about a month or two. This is why it is said that a new habit is formed in about a months time.

If you can get yourself past the first 60 days, you will be free.

To stop any addiction you need a big enough reason to go through this phase of suffering. We are comfort creatures, and tend to avoid anything that causes us discomfort. We are moved to action by things that cause us pleasure first and foremost. It is not easy leaving our comfort zone.

The best way to go about the first 60 days following to decision to stop an addiction is to keep yourself busy during with mainly things that make you feel good. These good feeling activities will not release good feeling endorphins as they normally do, and when you understand that during the first month or two after stopping an addiction, nothing much will make you feel as good as what the addiction made you feel, then you will have a much easier time during this difficult period.

You can start practicing the breathing technique I have in next chapter 14. The breathing exercise helps raise endorphins (good feeling hormones) pretty fast and this can also come handy during the first 60 days of stopping the addiction. 

The steps to break an addiction begin with defining a long term goal that is more important to you than the addiction and the good feeling sensation it gives you in the short term.

If you become sick, with a real life-threatening disease, it's easy, you want so badly to regain your health and to survive, that you will find yourself capable of doing many things that you never ever thought you would be capable of doing in order to regain your health. 

A short term disease is forgotten to quickly, but when you need chemotherapy and operations, you do not forget that easily. You have the scars to remind you.

If it is win or lose with the partner of your dreams, this may also be enough to stop any addiction.

If it is win or lose situation for becoming pregnant, and this is your dream. You will find it easier to stop any addiction. These are examples of long term goals that fuel you with enough passion to stop an addiction.

The main factor to understand when wanting to overcome an addiction is the immense power we each have at our disposal. We are creators with the power to create any conditions for ourselves through the power of our mind. You can regain control over your health and live the life you were meant to live, free from anything bounding through taking control of your thoughts.

Here are my five steps to break an addiction:

1. Find a goal that is powerful enough over you to make the addiction lose it's power:

 The goal must be so strong that you feel you do not want live without having it (or with having it in some cases). However, it is important not to find some other addictive element instead of the one you already have. They tend to get even worse... For example, you found a wonderful partner, you want them so bad that it hurts. This is another addiction forming. You may want to have a relationship very much, but do not be specific with whom. Stay open, perhaps, if you will prove to yourself that you are strong enough to overcome the addiction, you will love yourself much more to see that perhaps you deserve better than you ever imagined before and once you have overcome your addiction, you will feel a sense of worthiness that will increase your self esteem and help you to attract much better situations onto you. When you are in a loving position towards yourself, you will naturally attract something great for yourself.

So do have a goal in mind, but leave the specifics aside.

2. Remove yourself from negative surroundings.

You will find that certain surroundings and circumstances trigger the addiction within you. Write them down when you notice them and try to stay away from these places, people and triggers until you are strong enough within your new mindset and are addiction free. We each have individual, perhaps very subtle, triggers, that keep bringing us back to our addictive element. Once you recognise them, you can stay away from them more easily. For example, if the trigger is smoking a cigarette with the Sunday newspaper, don't read the sunday paper for a while, until you are stronger. Nothing will happen to you, this change will not be forever. Do some sport instead. If a food attack happens every time you have chocolate at home, don't bring chocolate home, and stay away from the supermarket isles where chocolate is served. For drugs and alcohol, stay away from pubs and your regular night life or from certain friends. Go to the movies, or go to a late night gym or pool instead. Or get a pet and take it out for long walks in the evenings in places where you can meet other people for small talk.

3. Give yourself a break.

Remember you are not running a sprint, this is a marathon. It is not easy and it will not happen in a minute. It takes time. Keep going until you achieve the goal. Persistence is key. You are the only one who decides if you fail or not. If you don't give up, you have not failed.

When one starts a new habit of running, in the beginning, it is not possible to run continuously for 42 kilometres. You start by running some, and then walking a little, and then sometimes you stop to release some lactic acid build up and then you continue, and so forth.

It's the same with overcoming an addiction. Be soft on yourself if you stumble a little, or even if you make a big fall. Nevertheless, if you get up, scrub your knees and continue in the right direction, you will reach this goal. When I stopped being bulimic, I sometimes did it again, but each fall was further and farther between. I knew I was on the right track, although it was not easy. 

4. Do things one step at a time:

When stopping my bulimia, I understood that I was going to gain weight by stopping, and this is not an easy thing for someone who had an eating disorder. However, I decided that my mental and physical health was more important to me than the weight gain, and with the weight gain I would deal with later on. This made my life much easier when stopping the addiction. 

The weight gain was also dealt with at a later stage, one step at a time. You will also find that once the addiction is released, all of a sudden you have more free time, this time that was previously spent around the addiction, now can be spent on making yourself feel good, caring for yourself, and doing anything that makes you feel happy. You can exercise if it makes you happy, or try dancing, yoga, walking in nature, whatever it is, you will suddenly find yourself with much more free time. 

All of these suggestions will help you remove your addiction much more easily, and soon you will be well on your way to doing good for your body instead of something harmful.

You will start to regain your power back instead of giving it over to something else (cigarettes, food, alcohol, drugs, or even coffee).

Returning the power over to your hands will automatically make you a happier person.

5. Never punish yourself for making a mistake.

You wouldn't have made a mistake if you wouldn't have tried in the first place, therefore, only people who try, will sometimes make mistakes. However, only those who give up are those who fail. If you persist, you WILL succeed. 

I have a magnet on my fridge that reads: Never, Never, Never Give Up! 

You will make mistakes, and you will sometimes fall back into your old behaviour patterns, it doesn't mean anything! Just ignore your falls and continue like they never happened. Say to yourself  "So what? It's where I'm headed most of the time that will get me to where I want to go". This is so very important in the success of stopping any addiction. Ignore the falls and continue on your way like they never happened.

6. Celebrate your achievements!

Ignore the falls, but by all means celebrate your achievements! Every new difficult milestone you reach, celebrate. For example, you now smoke one pack of cigarettes instead of two or three. Celebrate! You are smoking lower nicotine cigarettes than before, celebrate! You are only vomiting/drinking or using drugs or thinking of gambling or the bad relationship once every other day instead of twice to ten times a day, and you are feeling that you may not even need it so much anymore, by all means celebrate!

Go out and buy yourself a present, anything that makes you feel special, or do something you wanted to do but never had the time because you were too busy with the addiction.

Now that we are reaching the end of this article, what are you going to do about your addiction? Are you going out for a puff? Or are you going to try something different for a change? Try and lift some weights, turn on some music and dance, stop and do the breathing technique in the next chapter right now or do anything that makes YOU feel good instead of going for the addictive element. 

Do the right thing now, change your mind and change your habits!

Do something good for yourself. Eat a fruit or smile at yourself in the mirror.

I remember when I used to look at myself in the mirror and smile and say  I am in control, I decide what I want to do... I am in control, I decide what I want to do... I am in control, I decide what I want to do...

Good luck!

Love From GiGi


Steps to break an Addiction