5 Keys to Healing Addictions


Dear Jane,

How did I get into all this debt?

--Broke

Dear Broke,

In just these few words, posed all too often by clients, I can hear your shock, shame, frustration, and hopelessness. When you are in this terrible state, you can feel very alone and isolated. Yet left to your own devices, you may get worse, not better.

So here are 5 Keys to healing any addiction, whether it’s spending, drinking, cheating, lying, gambling, eating, or whatever else you have been overtaken by.

1. Realize what a slippery slope addiction is: It’s a lot easier to get into debt than to get out of it. This is because getting into debt doesn’t require a plan; in fact, it often requires unconsciously not planning. The same can be said for an addiction to food or any other addiction. It’s much easier to gain the weight than it is to lose it because gaining it means simply “going unconscious.”

2. Recognize the benefits you get from going unconscious: There are two short-term benefits to going unconscious using addictive behaviors: First, we get temporary relief from the pressure of having to take responsibility. Secondly, we get a temporary high from our addiction. The relief and the high are intertwined because the high offers a heightened sense of relief.

3. Reach out NOW: You obviously can’t maintain an addictive high permanently. When you do finally come down, it is a crash landing. Each time you experience the cycle of your addiction, you tend to feel worse and fall further, right? Consequences become ever more severe, including destitution, suicidal thoughts/depression, total loss of self-esteem, or poor health or even death. If you try to go it alone, you will probably let your shame run you. Shame isn’t a good motivator. Compassion is. Find a group or a competent coach or therapist to work with.

4. Stop lying to yourself: Quit telling yourself that if you had more money, you wouldn’t be in this much financial trouble. Or if you had better metabolism, you’d be thin. Or if you had a nicer mate, you wouldn’t be cheating. None of these excuses are true. In my book, Enough Is Enough!, I talk about what happens if you continue to believe your excuses: you will lose more of your dignity and waste more of your precious life and energy. If you are in deeper and deeper debt, what is true is that you are addicted. Winning the lottery wouldn’t change that. After all, over 70% of people who win the lottery end up with as little or less than they had before they won. If you are drinking more and more, changing from “the hard stuff” to wine isn’t the cure. That’s like believing that smoking will cure a food addiction. Trading addictions isn’t healing addictions. It is a game your addictive mind will try to play but you can’t win at it.

5. “Tap” into healing: You are misusing money or food or sex or alcohol or drugs or TV to try to numb something. What memories, feelings, or situations trigger your addiction? Once you stop avoiding the core reason for your addictive behaviors and begin to get comfortable with feelings you once dreaded, you will feel less compulsion to behave addictively. There are so many valid options for healing addictions, including 12-step programs, therapy and coaching, acupuncture and other holistic approaches, even prayer for many people. In addition, I use EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, with my clients. EFT is a quick, efficient, yet powerful “tapping” method for releasing the anxiety and pain that trigger addictions.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to suffer tomorrow from your addictions just because you are suffering today. You are a worthy being who deserves to thrive and live your extraordinary life.

Jane Straus is a life coach and author of the popular

book, Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life (Jossey-Bass). Visit StopEnduring.com to view Jane's TV interviews, watch her videocasts, read her articles, buy her book, read her articles, and sign up for her weekly e-newsletter.

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