Help with giving up an addiction and staying stopped
Giving up an addiction can be hard, but it's never impossible if you really want to. And there's help available so that you can stay stopped. One useful approach is Breathing Space's Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP), a meditation-based course that helps you become more aware of the habits of thinking that can lead into addictive behaviour. Book now
Being ready to give up an addiction
Many people know that their addiction is doing them no good, but still engage in it. This may go on for a long time before they recognise what's happening. Sometimes it takes a 'crisis' for this to happen - like a relationship breakdown, or financial problems. People may also start find that the substance or behaviour they are dependent on just doesn't work anymore. This can be the moment when someone is ready to seek help to give up his or her addiction.
Withdrawal after giving up an addiction
When giving up an addiction, there can be withdrawal symptoms. If it's a substance being given up - like alcohol, drugs or medication - there can be physical symptoms like aching, trembling, fever, or diarrhoea. If you are severely dependent on some substances such as alcohol, it can be dangerous to stop suddenly. So it is best to seek advice and help from a health professional such as your GP. Alongside this - and when stopping other addictive behaviours - there can be strong emotions like depression, anger, or frustration. The dependency may have been masking these, which is often why someone got addicted in the first place. Giving up an addiction means facing these difficult feelings, but it can help to know that they will subside and change over time.
Help to stay stopped
Once you've given up whatever it is you're addicted to, there is help available to stay stopped from health professionals and other organisations:
- Your GP: This can be a good place to start in seeking help. Some GPs can advise you about self-help groups you could go to and other things you can do to stay stopped.
- Specialist drug and alcohol services: These can provide advice and information, help with withdrawing from substances, specialist addiction counselling and access to more intensive treatment.
- Self-help programmes: The best known of these is the 12 step programme used by groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12 step programme may not suit all people - however, there are other self-help programmes available.
- Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention: This is a meditation-based approach that helps you become more aware of the habits of thinking that can lead into addictive behaviour. Breathing Space runs MBRP courses. Book now
- Counselling and psychotherapy: The key to recovery can be getting in touch with feelings and being able to 'hold' them without the need to turn to the addictive behaviour for support. This means coming to terms with the past and finding new ways of thinking and moving forward. Many people find that a good way to do this is by talking to a trained professional. There are two broad categories of professionals you can go to:
- Counselling involves talking to someone who is trained at listening. You can express your feelings and find ways to solve problems. Your GP may be able to refer you to a counsellor on the NHS.
- Psychotherapy is more frequent and intensive than counselling and involves looking more deeply at earlier life experiences. It is not usually available on the NHS. To find a psychotherapist near you, visit the UKCP website - see our links page
Looking after yourself
It can be helpful when you've given up an addiction to replace old habits with new ones. It's about making sure you are looking after your body and mind:
- Exercise regularly: Doing physical activity can relax you and make you feel good mentally and physically.
- Eat well: A balanced diet helps keep you generally well.
- Get enough sleep: Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
- Develop your interests: Doing something that engages and interests you is great for mental wellbeing.
Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention at Breathing Space
Links to information and advice about addiction