The addiction monster lives inside anyone who is addicted to anything. It can be kind, gentle, coaxing, devious, calculating, deceitful and shrewd. It will act in anyway it has to in order to ensure that it is kept fed the daily dose of its addiction of choice.
As long as you have no desire to stop your addictive habit, your addiction monster will live quietly inside your head, its only role is to give you little reminders that it is time for you to act out your habit. In the same way a hunger pang reminds you it is time to eat, the addiction monster sends out little reminders that it is time to smoke, drink alcohol, eat something sweet.
As long as you obey within a reasonable time frame, it will be your best friend, in fact you will not even know it is there, but all the while it grows bigger and stronger.
If you are not aware it is there, then you cannot keep it under control and without restraint its appetite can become insatiable.
And then one day this insatiable appetite starts to cause you problems, you may put on weight, have sleepless night, it is costing you too much money or it is starting to affect your health. You then make the decision that you need to give up or get your habit under control.
You recognise that your habit is taking more than it is giving and perhaps it is stopping you making better choices in your life. Maybe you have better things to spend your money on, things that will improve your health instead of destroying it.
You have made your decision, chosen a date to start and with determination you resolve that you will stop smoking, drinking, eating unhealthy food. You are clear in your mind why you want to stop and know all the benefits that this will bring to your life.
Day one dawns and you feel positive and ready for the challenge. Then the addiction monster wakes up, and it is not happy, it is not happy at all. But it knows you, it lives in your head, so it understands that you are not really serious, so it gives you a couple of reminders that he needs its addiction fed. But this is day one, and you are determined, it is morning, you have an abundance of willpower and feel strong.
You refuse to listen to the monster as it becomes more and more insistent – and then suddenly it keeps quiet, it understands what you are trying to do, but it knows you and it knows that all it has to do is wait. It waits until the time of day you usually act out your habit and it will try again but again it is day 1, you are determined and you wave it away.
Every time you normally act out your habit, whether it was at certain times of the day, or when you are tired, stressed, anxious, then it will try again to get you to feed him.
Remember it lives inside your head; it knows everything there is to know about you. It knows your weaknesses; it knows all the reasons you gave yourself for acting out the habit.
Each time you refuse to feed it, it will shrink a little, it will lose some of his power, but it is devious, it knows it can wait this out and you will eventually give in and feed it. It just has to find the right moment, the right trigger. It knows you have a birthday soon, and you cannot celebrate your birthday without cake, without wine. It knows you have a holiday planned and everyone indulges on holiday, so it waits. It does not give up trying and each day you feel the cravings ebbing and flowing.
There is only on way to kill your monster and that is to starve it, day by day, it will become weaker and the longer you refuse to feed it its addiction of choice it will shrink and lose a little more power.
After a while, the cravings it sends become weaker and less frequent but do not get fooled as it might be weakened but it still has many tricks left to play.
Its favourite trick is to present you with lovely images where you can see yourself enjoying alcohol, maybe sitting on a pavement café with a beautiful meal and a bottle of wine, a cigarette to finish off your meal. Whatever your favourite time was to enjoy your habit; is the picture you will see. All in bright technicolour. You will see yourself relaxed, carefree and all stress and anxiety will fade away. The monster will put you in a trance and right there in that moment your resolve starts to slip. You start to tell yourself that you have been good for a week/month, you have lost weight, you feel better, healthier, you have more energy. Maybe you start to tell yourself that you probably were not addicted in the first place.
So, the planning begins, you plan a time or date to start again and convince yourself that you have given up once therefore you can do it again and as you plan the addiction monster starts to grow again, it grows in confidence, it smiles to itself, it may have taken a while, but it knew it would win in the end.
It is the weakness of human nature that we always move away from pain and towards pleasure and your addiction monster knows this, that is why it shows you lovely pictures of the special times in your life. After a while we forget about the pain of our addiction because while we have stopped the problems have disappeared.
How then do we conquer the Addiction Monster?
- Acknowledge its existence. Give it a name, not something nasty, a nice name, like a pet that lives inside your head. Remember you are trying to make friends, to get it on your side. You do not need to make an enemy to kill him off, you need to befriend it and convince it that it needs to help you. You know all the reasons you want to stop what you are doing; you need to let your monster know and get it to agree to support you. When our conscious and unconscious minds are in agreement that we want to give up our addictive habit there is no conflict of interest and when there is no conflict of interest there is no addiction.
- Learn to treat the craving like a nagging child. The cravings you feel are the same as a young child nagging for sweets. Treat it the same way. Be determined and explain as you would to a child, you can pester me all you want but the answer is still no. You know you are saying no to a child for all the right reasons and you know you are saying no to your addiction monster because it is the right thing to do. Cravings do not last long, they ebb and flow like the tide. When they come, move. Get up and do something else don’t sit and dwell on them and allow the addiction monster to send you into a trance.
- Believe it can be done. if you have never managed to kick a habit then it is easy to convince yourself that it cannot be done. You may have already tried many times, but always start again, and you start to despair that you will never do it. Well, it can be done, many people have given up their bad habits. I used to have an Addiction Monster that loved cigarettes, he no longer lives with me, he left 27 years. He has completely gone; he left about 2 years after I stopped smoking and never came back. There are milestones to giving up any addiction and they will be different for everyone but as the months pass the cravings will lesson in strength and come less often. After a few short months you will stop thinking about your addiction unless you are triggered by something you see, hear or smell. After a year you are almost free but need to stay alert until the final death throes of your monster as it will try everything it can to keep you addicted. As the months pass you become stronger and stronger and the monster becomes weaker and frailer. If you do not feed it eventually it will die.
- Count the days, then the months. Our brains love a sense of achievement and it makes it easier to keep going. Who wants to give in after 30 days when you would need to start from day 1 again.
- Retrain your Brain. When we give up an addiction we need to re-train the brain. Many people give up many times before they finally crack the code that sets them free. Never despair if you give in, as each time you give up you weaken the monster and you learn a little more about yourself. You learn what worked and what did not work.
When you finally succeed you will feel the final death rattle of your addiction monster and you will know you are free because you can act out your addiction if you want, but the thing is, you just do not want to. You watch other people indulging and you wonder why, they would want to poison their bodies in that way. You feel an inner peace that only comes when we are relaxed using the natural hormones in the body and not those we get from sugar, alcohol, drugs or nicotine.
If you would like more help with addiction then you can find videos on The Freedom From Addiction – 14 Challenge Facebook Group: Freedom From Addiction – 14 Day Challenge