Depending on how you define “addiction,” it is possible that most of us (if not all) are addicted to something. That may include acceptable addictions like work or reading and less acceptable ones like overeating, gambling, sexual addiction, and the reliance on substances like alcohol or drugs. It would be helpful if we could name our own private “addiction” and begin to understand just how and why that habit or substance or way of thinking became so very important to us.

If you are facing alcohol or drug-related addictions, you may find yourself quite conflicted about the process of letting go of these powerful substances. For many, their relationship to this substance is more reliable and emotionally safe than many of their relationships with people have been. The substance or habit often helps us manage uncomfortable emotional states like anxiety or boredom, not to mention physical pain and grief. Some of us never received the emotional tools necessary to manage our feelings and states, how to self-soothe in healthy ways.

Many find their initiation into alcohol or marijuana, for example, in their teens when they notice that their social anxieties seem to vanish after using. This trend only solidifies in college and afterward, where substance-dependence becomes entrenched as a lifestyle.

If you want help to remove yourself from this way of living, you may consider detox centers followed by rehab facilities. Rehabilitation centers are usually quite expensive and their results are mixed. They usually follow a specified program which includes evaluation, individual therapy, and group therapy, with family therapy offered as well. Some also include spiritual renewal as part of their healing process. Each program is unique, so make sure to find one that offers elements that you believe will be most helpful to you. When these treatment programs fail, it is often because the individuals wind up feeling as though they must adapt to the program, rather than the program being fitted to them. We are beginning to live in a time where medical and psychological care will be personalized to fit each individual.

Many find that once they have gone through the detoxification process, they find a mixture of a 12-Step program such as Alcohol- or Narcotics Anonymous, or Celebrate Recovery (found in many churches) together with individual psychotherapy, preferably with a focus on psychoanalytic themes, is quite helpful to them. The group experience allows them to normalize their experience and find others who have experienced many of the same factors leading to usage in the first place. Most of these groups also offer sponsors who are available when someone feels most vulnerable to using again. The individual therapy allows someone the opportunity to understand how they came to be addicted or at least habituated to a substance whose use became destructive – and why. Further, they discover healthy ways to realize what they are feeling (and why) and how to manage those feelings in a productive and informative manner.

If you are struggling with an unwanted habit of any type, I would love to talk with you about what options you may take.