MY KNOWLEDGE AND INTEREST
I'm not an expert on addictions
but I do know a lot about how people change.
And overcoming addiction is one of the biggest changes anyone can make.
So here are the beliefs and methods I find most helpful
for people who are licking their addictions.
Since some people don't trust anyone unless they've been through it themselves,
I will tell you that I overcame my own addiction to very heavy smoking.
It was the most difficult thing I ever did
until I learned what I'm going to tell you here.
Every addictive chemical makes us feel better emotionally - temporarily.
Some chemicals directly stimulate our pleasure zone,
and others make us feel numb when we are afraid of our feelings.
Everyone with a major addiction gets at least a little depressed
due to these chemical changes,
especially during the first few days after quitting.
We need to minimize this depression to be able to quit.
Addicts depend on the distorted feelings they get from their chemicals.
Their feelings scare them into thinking that they need the chemicals
even though their brains know they don't.
And their brains have been losing this battle
ever since they became addicted.
So we also need to minimize or eliminate this fear to
be able to quit.
WHAT TO DO SO YOU CAN QUIT
1) Get medication from an MD who is an expert on addictions.
2) Get all the physical and emotional support you can from your family,
your support group, your friends, and from professionals.
3) Use up all your anger and fear energy safely - until you get full relief.
4) Treat yourself well if you experience failures along the way.
5) Treat yourself well every time you succeed.
1) GETTING MEDICATION FOR AN EXPERT MD
There are many excellent new addiction medications. Don't expect your
usual family doctor to know about these. You need a specialist in addictions
to help you discover what will work best for you. Call a therapist or
any Family Service Agency for a referral to an addiction specialist who
is also an MD.
2) GETTING PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
You will need safe, warm touch now! Get non-sexual touch from anyone who
offers or says it's O.K. when you ask. It's one of the strongest ways
to feel your own worth.
Don't spend time with people who want you to keep using! This may include
some good friends. They are probably good people, but they are bad for
you now. Stay away from them. Spend as much time as you can with people
who are proud of you for quitting, and with those who cared about you
whether you were using or not.
3) USING UP ALL YOUR ANGER AND FEAR SAFELY:
You are going to be angry at a lot of things: the chemicals, the manufacturers,
anyone who encouraged you to start, anyone who insists you have to quit,
etc. If you don't notice your anger you will get very depressed. (When
you start to think you are angry with yourself, that's the start of depression.)
And you are probably going to be afraid - afraid you won't succeed, and
maybe even more afraid that you will succeed and you won't know how to
handle your life without the chemicals.
You need to USE UP your anger and your fear. If these feelings are as
strong as they are for most people, you will need to use them up in a
physical but entirely safe way. When you are scared you might just have
to let yourself sit and shake. (I know this is painful, but it's so much
more painful to feel like this and try to run away from it.) And when
you are angry you might need to find a pile of wood that needs to be chopped,
or a bunch of bottles you can smash safely in a junkyard, or something
else that brings you safe and powerful physical relief.
A Caution About Anger:
Most people who get hooked on chemicals have been badly hurt in their
life. They were taught that all anger has to be used on people. This is
absolutely not true. If you use such big anger on people, there will be
more anger to deal with afterward. If you use it on inanimate objects
you can get full relief.
4) TREAT YOURSELF WELL IF YOU FAIL ALONG THE WAY
Always focus on your successes, even when you fail. If you use the chemical
again after avoiding it for a week, it's the successful week that matters,
not the failure along the way.
5) TREAT YOURSELF WELL BY CELEBRATING WHEN YOU SUCCEED
Every time you pass up an opportunity to use, this is a major success.
Celebrate alone when necessary, but celebrate with others who care about
you whenever you can.
Reading this and thinking seriously about these things
is already a major success!
So you can celebrate right now!
Please Tell Your Friends About
Enjoy Your Changes!
Everything here is designed to help you do just that!
Write To Me, I Want To Hear From You!
Tony Schirtzinger, Therapist (Milwaukee)
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