Addiction: How You Can Quit

You know you have a problem, and your addictive behaviour is beginning to impact other parts of your life. Quitting any kind of addictive behaviour can be very difficult to do, even if you know that what you’re doing is bad for you. 

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You can quit, although quitting can be a complicated process. There are many physical, mental, and emotional factors that can make giving up hard. This is why many people seek treatment for addiction, like hypnosis, counselling, or even pet friendly rehabs, although some people are successful in quitting on their own. 

Understanding why quitting is so hard can help you to learn how to overcome your addiction. You can recognise that you are not weak-willed or are failing if you find it difficult. 


Tolerance and withdrawal both contribute to addiction. Both are a large part of what get you hooked in the first place, whether your addiction is food, nicotine, or something harder. Without tolerance and withdrawal, you would find quitting much easier. 

When you experience an addictive substance or behaviour for the first time, it can be overwhelming, or even unpleasant. If you feel the effects strongly, then you might feel as though there is a low risk of you being tempted to overdo it.

If the effects are mild, then you might think your behaviour is harmless. The more you repeat the behaviour, the less sensitive you become to it and the more you need to feel the same effects. Drugs, including alcohol, work on the brain to create physical tolerance. 

Some behaviours, like gambling, produce a feeling of excitement. This excitement may become less intense over time. As your tolerance level develops, you might want to repeat the behaviour more to get the same feelings or effects. 


As you start to become addicted, you can begin to experience withdrawal when you aren’t able to partake in the behaviour. You might experience physical symptoms, like shaking, feeling unwell or an upset stomach, or you might experience emotional symptoms, like anxiety or depression. These symptoms go away when you act on the addictive behaviour.

Physical withdrawal can vary, and usually takes a few days. Withdrawal from drugs or alcohol can be very unpleasant, and even dangerous, so is best undergone under medical supervision. 

Impediments For Quitting

Addiction can reach a level where it creates a lot of internal conflicts. You might feel conflicted within yourself, as you want to quit, but also still have urges to engage in whatever you are addicted to. You may also have a conflict with others, both with those who want you to quit, but also with those who want you to keep engaging in the thing you’re trying to give up. 

Even after getting through the withdrawal phase, conflict can still exist. Quitting is stressful, and now you’re managing without something you used to use to cope, so this will be tough. 

It is important to learn other ways of coping with stress and to have those firmly established, ideally before you quit. This gives you other options to cope. A therapist can help you with this. Without these strategies already in place, you’re likely to experience stronger urges to relapse. 

Guilt And Justification

Feeling guilty and uncomfortable about your current behaviour can be a great motivator to help you make a change, whether you want to drink less, or give up gambling. Sometimes, guilt can also work against you, as you find ways to justify the behaviour that you aren’t happy with to yourself and to others. Justification can a big obstacle to quitting. 

Common justifications can include:

  • Denial – it’s not a problem
  • Minimization – I’ve already cut down
  • Comparison – My friend smokes more than I do
  • Defiance – I’d rather carry on than quit and be miserable
  • Rationalisation – I’m more confident in social situations after I’ve had a drink
  • Lesser of two evils – It’s better to do this than be miserable and hard to live with
  • Misinformation – It has medicinal uses, so it’s ok
  • Glorification – Cool people drink alcohol and smoke

How Can You Quit?

Therapy can be a great starting point to help you to cope with any uncomfortable feelings and to help you pinpoint the thoughts and feelings that keep you addicted or led you to the behaviour in the first place. Quitting is rarely easy or straightforward, but with a good treatment program, you have a better chance of achieving your goals when you’re ready. 

This is a collaborative post.



  1. There’s another few phrases from AA which I found helpful.

    (Paraphrasing here) In addiction, we are “restless, irritable and discontent.” If we stop, we are “boring, stupid and glum.” But there is an alternative, if we do recovery, where we can be “happy, joyous and free”.

    The Steps work. The Program works. But I need a bigger payoff than mere abstinence. Otherwise, I put in all that hard work and the reward is “boring, stupid and glum” at best, dry drunk at worst. No thanks.

    Thankfully, that’s not the case. The things I have to do to stay sober are also the things that help me deal with the mess of my life, and all the things I was trying to avoid. It’s a bit of a two-in-one deal and I’m grateful there’s no compromise or conflict of interest here in recovery.

    Sometimes, I even get to be the silly carefree person – but in a wholesome way. More like when my kids go play tag than when I’m high on my drug. It’s a good thing to be, and I don’t have to live my life without that good, wholesome fun. In fact, my therapist told me that’s absolutely crucial in the long run. They call it Top Lines or something like that. Basically to orientated recovery away from mere abstinence to filling up our lives with good stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. In my 30 years as an addiction counselor, I saw over and over again that people underestimated the power of addiction and how much work it takes to fight it. Recovery is possible, but for most people, it’s hard work. There’s a saying in 12 step programs that people would say together at the end of meetings: “Keep coming back, It works if your work it.” and sometimes they would add, “But you gotta work it every day….. and night.”

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    1. I got so lucky in both of my addictions. As a teen, it was forced and I had to go cold turkey, the nuns prayed for me. That was my intervention As an adult, I quit alcohol about 17 years ago. It was a decision based on medical facts, I’m Bipolar, and although my doctor knew I drank he said that it would diminish the effects of the meds. One day while having a very difficult time I decided to quit. I’ve only had a couple of drinks since and don’t miss it. I miss the silly carefree person I was but I’ve gotten older and don’t care as much. My confession time, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You were lucky! And blessed. Those nuns prayers were powerful! There have been a couple of times when I’m tried to imagine that silly carefree feeling. I can get brief moments without any mind altering substances. Funny movies and blowing bubbles helps.

        Liked by 1 person

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