Woman smoking a cigarette

Why Quitting an Addiction is So Hard

The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a chronic and treatable medical condition that is characterized by complex interactions among an individual’s life experiences, environment, genetics, and brain circuits.

Individuals continue to indulge in harmful habits despite negative side effects because addiction alters the brain’s reward system, which heightens the desire for the experience or substance. These alterations in the brain also impact judgment and impulse control, which makes quitting the addiction very difficult.

While recovering from drug addiction is not always easy, addiction is still curable. With the right mental approach and supportive resources, you can overcome the mental and physical challenges you face in order to recover.

Beginning the Process

According to one model of addiction recovery referred to as the transtheoretical model, making any type of behavior change involves a process that begins with pre-contemplation which is then followed by actual contemplation.

At this stage of addiction recovery, you may be in denial about the negative consequences of your addiction. As you gain more insight about your situation, you may then struggle with feelings of uncertainty and even become more conscious of your need to quit your addiction in order to improve your life.

Once you decide to overcome your addiction, you can start the process by getting ready to take action.

Decide to Change

The decision to change is one of the most crucial steps in quitting an addiction. Accepting that a change is necessary, it means that you acknowledge that there is a problem and there is a need to find a proper solution.

Choosing to change and determining what that change will look like is a process that can take up a significant amount of time. This is referred to as the contemplation stage because it involves deciding whether to change and how to do it.

However, over-ambitious objectives are not advisable. It is better to come up with an objective that you are likely to achieve than to plan to quit an addiction and end up relapsing, which can be riskier than simply proceeding without implementing any change.

Consulting a psychologist, addiction counselor, or doctor is very useful at this stage as it can help you understand the risks and how to manage them.

Prepare to Change

Once you understand what your objective is, you then need to prepare to change. Preparing typically involves eradicating addictive substances from your home as well as removing triggers in your life that may increase the likelihood of continuing with your addiction.

This often means removing any items or paraphernalia that may trigger your desire to engage in harmful behavior or use an addictive substance. You might also need to alter your routine so that you have less contact with any environment or individuals that trigger your cravings.

Some other ways you can prepare to change is by deciding which approach you plan to employ to quit your addiction and gathering the resources you need to achieve your objective.

For instance, an individual who is attempting to quit smoking can begin by deciding whether they are going to gradually reduce their smoking habit or quit smoking entirely.

Next, they can get the tools they need to stop smoking like locating a nearby support group, purchasing nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, or speaking to a qualified medical professional about prescription smoking cessation drugs.

Get Social Support

Probably the most difficult part of preparing to change is deciding how to deal with social relationships. For individuals struggling with addictions, some of their interactions may involve addictive habits.

In such instances, creating boundaries within those interactions and enrolling into a self-help group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can be useful for bringing together individuals who are on the journey of addiction recovery.