5 Strategies for Resisting Behavioral Addictions
- Get the Help You Need
- Know Your Triggers
- Set Clear Guidelines (and Stick to Them)
- Enlist Some Assistance
- Find Another Source of Gratification
Sex Vs Drug AddictionNo one ever described the life of a drug addict as easy--except possibly for someone experiencing a behavioral addiction. Drug and alcohol addictions have a simpler remedy: stop using. And while the behaviors associated with some behavioral addictions, such as gambling, can be totally abandoned, many behavioral addictions involve actions that are impossible to completely abandon.
No one can give up shopping or eating, and it's unreasonable to expect anyone to give up sex. If you are recovering from a behavioral addiction, then, you'll need to find novel strategies for combating temptation and practicing moderation.
Get the Help You Need
Know Your Triggers
Every addict has specific triggers that encourage them to indulge their addictions. Some of the most common include:
Identify your triggers, and be as specific as possible. Maybe you feel fine after a fight with a friend, but a fight with your spouse has you heading for a credit card-sponsored spending spree. Knowing this in advance can help you prepare for the inevitable challenges of daily life.
For each trigger, make a list of alternative coping strategies that distract you from your craving. Some options might include:
Talking to a friend.
Playing with your dog.
Playing a game you love.
- Doing something nice for yourself, such as getting a massage.
Talk to a therapist or someone you trust about your alternative coping skills since sometimes one addiction can lead to another. A gambling addict, for instance, might start compulsively spending money to cope with his cravings.
Set Clear Guidelines (and Stick to Them)
Impulsive decision-making, especially in a world where we all must make dozens of decisions each day, rarely produces a good result.
- Rather than trusting yourself to make a good decision in the heat of the moment, set clear guidelines for your behavior ahead of time.
These rules can guide you during moments of weakness.
- For instance, a shopping addict might decree that it's acceptable to spend $100 on clothing a month, and a sex addict might limit himself to dating only twice per month, and never having sex before the third date.
Enlist Some Assistance
In the 12-step model of recovery, everyone picks a sponsor. There's a reason for this. Just as peer pressure can encourage bad decision-making, it can also empower you to resist temptation.
- Find someone whom you can trust to counsel you when you're overwhelmed by cravings.
- When you face a situation that you know might trigger a relapse--such as the rush of Black Friday for a compulsive spender--take the loved one with you.
Find Another Source of Gratification
Addiction is a disease, not a failure, and the right help can get you back to living the life you deserve.
Fong, T. W. (n.d.). Understanding and managing compulsive sexual behaviors. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2945841/
Grant, J. E., Potenza, M. N., Weinstein, A., & Gorelick, D. A. (n.d.). Introduction to behavioral addictions. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3164585/