What Are You Addicted To And 5 Ways To Give Up
Are you an addict?
Do you keep smoking even though you really want to give up. Do you find it impossible to skip your 2 glasses of wine each night, because they help you unwind? Or perhaps you daily have 3 espressos before you leave the house in the morning because you just can’t get out the door without them. Do you repeatedly find the empty wrapper from a family block of chocolate on the coffee table even though you and your partner agreed to eat ‘just one row each’ last night? Do you look at your phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night? These are all addictive behaviours, so if any of them sound familiar, yes, you are an addict!
What is addiction?
Addiction is a condition, in fact a disorder of the brain, where you compulsively and repeatedly engage in a behavior (which can include consuming something) that may provide pleasure initially, but has known adverse effects. There is some debate about whether addiction should be labeled a ‘mental illness’ or not. Addiction can interfere with other parts of your life such as work or relationships, but many people continue to live ‘normally’ with addictions, especially the kinds of addictions that we are talking about today.
When you have an addiction, two things happen in your brain. The first is that it responds to you consuming the thing or doing the behavior that you are addicted to, with increasing tolerance, so you start to need larger or more frequent indulgences to satisfy your craving. The second thing is that your brain overreacts to the cues that it associates with the addiction. For example, when you get home from work and open the fridge pull out the chicken breasts you are going to cook for dinner, and see that glistening bottle of Savignon Blanc in the door, your brain makes it very difficult for you to leave the bottle alone, because it associates getting home and opening the fridge with drinking wine.
The cycle of negative energy that occurs in addiction is: urge-satisfaction-guilt.
Why have you become addicted?
All branches of healthcare – both allopathic and holistic – recognize that addiction stems from some level of unhappiness or stress. You are using the addictive behavior or substance as a crutch, a ‘bandaid’, to alleviate pain or stress, or to fill a hole in your life. An addiction may help you to temporarily escape from whatever is making you unhappy or causing you stress. When you don’t do anything to treat the underlying cause of your addiction it can be easy to swap one addiction for another, such as replacing smoking cigarettes with eating chocolate.
From a metaphysical point of view (looking at underlying emotional and energetic causes) addictions stem from stressors that occurred before you were born or in very early childhood, and can even relate to stressors that your mother experienced during her pregnancy or her own addictions. Epigenetics would suggest that trauma can carry through several generations, but blaming your addiction on your ancestors is not going to help you overcome them!
5 Ways to overcome addiction
Of course food itself – especially particular foods and drinks – can be the source of addiction. Avoiding addictive food sources – alcohol, sugar, salt, caffeine and fat – is best. Include lots of plant-based proteins to improve production of neurotransmitters (brain messengers) – beans, nuts, seeds – spread your intake across the day. A B-complex vitamin supplement could also be helpful for a period of time.
Moving the body with a high level of intensity can be very beneficial for getting out of your head – running, meta-fit, aerobics, step, cycling, swimming. At the other end of the movement, spectrum is forms of movement that bring attention to the breath – yoga, tai chi, pilates, qi gong – and allow a very holistic workout, that brings in aspects of body, mind, and spirit. When we train the brain to recognize that you can deal with stress, by putting the body under stress, it also recognizes that it doesn’t need artificial support (in the form of the addiction) in order to manage stress.
There is always a negative cycle involved with not prioritizing sleep. When the brain does not get enough good quality – deep – sleep it cannot repair itself and cannot function optimally. When the brain doesn’t function optimally we tend to more easily become addicted and undertake addictive behaviors and fail to prioritize sleep – thus making the cycle of addiction all the more difficult to break.
Meditation brings about a state of mindfulness, where you can be peaceful and happy in the here and now. This practise activates the pre-frontal cortex in the brain – the inhibitory centre – allowing you to stop and think rather than automatically resorting to your addiction to get through a particular situation, or everyday life. For a specific visualization meditation to help to overcome addictions please contact me directly.
Essential oils will work away quietly on emotional and spiritual imbalances, without you having to necessarily be consciously aware of what it is that has caused your addiction. Essential oils can be diffused for fast, aromatic influence or applied topically to acupressure points, the temples, the back of the neck or the bottoms of the feet. If you have sensitive skin make sure that you always use a carrier oil or a moisturiser such as sorbolene to dilute the oils.
A couple of oils are recommended for specific addictions: for alcohol addiction use Rosemary (helps with clarity and wisdom), and for smoking use Black pepper (emotionally this oil will help you to be honest with yourself and authentic in your choices). When having withdrawal symptoms Grapefruit, Lavender and Orange are all useful.
If you would like any more information about anything that I have covered in this blog, feel free to contact me. If you would like to share any natural ways that you have supported yourself to overcome an addiction I would love to hear them!
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