How to Stop Addictive Behaviour – 9 Steps to Freedom & Recovery
Addiction is a spectre of our age, with record levels of alcohol and drug abuse, as well as lives decaying in a tormenting whirlwind that robs the soul, controls the mind and decays the body. However, before you can grasp how to stop addictive behaviour in your or someone else’s life, we have to get the fundamentals down first.
Addiction has become one of these modern-day catch all terms that range from a cheeky chocolate bar on a Tuesday afternoon to shooting up in the park surrounded by tins of cider.
In the mission to stop addictive behaviour, it is true that at the most fundamental level, the solutions to both the aforementioned scenarios are the same, yet the path on which we get there and the innate level of transformation one must go through are completely different.
Types of Addiction
When looking into how to stop addictive behaviour, you must first be aware of how an addiction is functioning within you.
In my experience of recovery groups, addicts and addiction in general, substance abuse usually falls into one of three categories (although some individuals can have two or even three of these dynamics at play).
The categories are:
1. Party Addiction
This is a purely psychological and physical addiction that has developed from an excess of a party or hedonistic lifestyle. You may well have no discernable trauma or a genetic predisposition, yet you party too hard or have been too complacent with pleasure-seeking and now have built up a heavy tolerance to intoxicants/behaviour that means you need a certain amount to ‘feel normal’ and get the required hit you want
2. Trauma Response
Trauma response is a surprisingly common causal factor in addiction, which has been heavily explored by Dr Gabor Mate. It needn’t be PTSD from a warzone that causes an addiction – although that all too often does – it could be childhood abuse (physical, emotional or sexual), a distance from family or friends, or even a traumatic experience in one’s day to day life that leads you into a state of consciousness in which you cannot bear reality and need to ‘medicate’ yourself
3. Innate Addiction
Now while some people may have no hint of trauma in their lives, and haven’t even lived a party lifestyle, there are many who find themselves addicted to things inexplicably. The mainstream refers to such people as ‘addictive personalities’. Such people may well have a genetic predisposition to addiction, or maybe highly anxiety/depression-prone with a sensitive disposition to life leading them to need something to ‘take the edge off’
How to Stop Addictive Behaviour
Once you have reviewed the addiction categories, you can move on to looking into the work that has the power to set you free.
While different methodologies work for the different types, there are some overall themes that I will explore in this piece.
Many of the insights in this piece come from my own experience of addiction, as well as working with others in how to stop addictive behaviour, which I detail in full in my (free) book on life transformation.
You can get your copy of From Lost Boy to Awakened Man by following this link
From Lost Boy to Awakened Man offers a step-by-step programme for awakening to your true spirit and masculine centre, allowing you to find purpose, inner peace and direction, and the below insights are snapshots of the wider insights in the book.
1: Accept you cannot do it alone (and realise that this is a good thing)
Addiction festers in siloes, which is why when looking at how to stop addictive behaviour you must come to the realisation that you need some help with your issue.
The mind, the core of our ego, wants to place shame on addictive behaviour, either that’s because it’s embarrassing or because it makes you feel weak.
Yet what an addiction really shows is that there is a dysfunction in us and in the way we’re living life – it is the universe laying down the gauntlet for us to evolve.
The mind does not see it this way and wants to stay safe, hidden and comfortable in shame, yet what life is calling you to do is open up your heart and reveal your soul to the universe so you can be evolved as in individual mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
In my own case, addictions didn’t feel like this when I first began accepting I had them, but when I started doing the actual work I saw much inner sense of peace booming, my sense of direction becoming clear, and my ability to relate, interact and connect with others drastically improve.
Hence, the first thing you must do is accept you cannot beat an addiction alone – to think you can is pride talking, the limited egocentric sense of self.
We must transcend that and become wider, deeper, stronger, more connected and authentic human beings.
Addictions, when viewed and approached correctly, are actually a blessing. This is not some naïve soppy-pants BS I’m feeding you – remember, I’ve seen my own brother and friends die of addiction-related issues – this is the most central truth to life I’ve ever experienced.
2: Be willing to die to what you are
As I’ve alluded to above, in accepting we are not truly capable of change alone, we must then be willing to give up on our own notions of who we are and what we’re capable of and let ourselves be remoulded by a greater force.
That force could be a therapist, a recovery group, a personal development community, or a spiritual programme and tribe.
Whichever we choose, we must here countenance the notion of sacrifice.
While you may like certain elements of your life, and even your addiction(s), in order to transform we must be willing to sacrifice the bad parts and the good.
As I write about in From Lost Boy to Awakened Man, this is one of the most common stumbling blocks for many men and I give the example of a model I knew who suffered greatly from a heroin addiction.
This man had it all on the surface, the rugged good looks, the cool lifestyle, yet he couldn’t sacrifice the trendy musicians, models and the alternative lifestyle for a secure, sober environment of growth and purpose.
He’d stay clean for a while, getting to the gym, doing some modelling, going to a yoga class and so on, but he would always end-up down the pub engaging in his old lifestyle eventually.
This meant he became a ticking timebomb, as eventually, someone would offer him some smack and he’d take the bait.
For the spiritually inclined among us, this is what I believe Jesus referred to when he said: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell.”
What we must learn here is that it’s better to sacrifice something and live with that loss (and gain our life back) than to obstinately cling to the lifestyles that offer us short-term gain but long-term pain.
Now, where you are in terms of the seriousness of your addiction and on the addiction categories list very much determines the level one must go in what they must sacrifice, however speaking from experience, offering the whole of yourself for transformation creates a whole new life.
The process of rebirth is something we don’t really have control of. Call it evolution, God, a spirit of the universe, collective wisdom, whatever your belief system, we must be reborn into something that reaches beyond our confines.
Therefore, whether you go to therapy, a recovery group, a rehab, a spiritual retreat, a men’s workshop or anything else, we must have time to let go of the old and bring in the new.
This is a highly delicate and powerful experience.
In many ways, this experience cannot be faked, it will only occur when you truly give in.
However, when you do, the process of rebirth can begin and once it is in swing we can remould our way of life around a new centre that is not our own immediate needs, desires and victim-story.
It is vital to take some time out to do this, you simply cannot do this in a day, there needs to be a marked time for change and renewal done in a spirit and place that holds great meaning to you.
4: Cleanse your soul
This is the most powerful element of the process when working on how to stop addictive behaviour, and also the most memorable.
Further still, it is one of the most powerful experiences of your life.
Remember the point I made in point one, we must start to see an addiction for what it is, it is not a blight or a punishment, it is a window for evolution, transformation and change.
As Rumi once said, ‘The wound is where the light enters.’
So, with this in mind cleansing the soul is a process in which you go over your life with a fine toothcomb, you record your pain, trauma, anger, resentments, fears, wrongdoings and every last bit of toxic emotion in your system.
Once you have it down on paper, you reveal all to another human being, letting that person see you naked, and in that process, freedom begins to form through the pain.
This is the most vital part of your growth and this process is covered heavily in my book, it must be done honestly, sincerely and with another person.
Better yet, you should also be willing to welcome in the metaphysical, be that a spiritual belief you have, God, a spirit of the universe, or the force of life itself, bearing our soul to ourselves, another and our transcendent power forms the basis of a recovering man.
There are several ways in which you can do this process, which are covered in my book, however if you’d like more insight, or personal coaching on the matter, you can contact me also.
5: Cleanse your life
Once we have explored our inner dysfunction, fear and pain, it is then time to move on to clearing the external world.
In this pursuit, we must be willing to make restitution for harm that we may have caused.
Doing so minimizes and mitigates the potential for excessive guilt, shame and worry over past wrong actions, as well as creates a harmony between ourselves and others.
This is a process you must undertake with utmost effort and humility.
The notion here isn’t to yell, fight or blame anyone any longer, but to simply clear up your wrongs (where possible) and move on.
Next, we must also work on the process of resentment and forgiveness.
We simply cannot afford to cling to old pain and blame any longer, even if you’re right in that someone abused or hurt you.
This is because in holding the resentment we hold onto our identity of ‘victim’, and this identity creates a siege mentality in your soul, it makes life seem unfair, brutal and dangerous.
If you want to learn how to stop addictive behaviour, you must learn to feel and understand your pain and resentment, and then see that holding onto it is not serving you.
It is not providing some kind of justice for you, it’s actually destroying you, and you must set yourself free.
The only way to do this is by forgiveness.
6: Cleanse your body
As trite as it may sound, we really are what we eat.
When your cleansing your life and opening yourself up to a new reality, you cannot afford to limit your growth by limiting the body.
I’ve explored many times how we are not really individual beings, but are innately part of a network – our whole life depends on water, sun, nutrients and all the elements that keep the body alive, while the body itself is an ever-changing make-up of shedding skin, flowing blood and changing physiology.
If we travel to an even deeper level we see that even our idea of ‘self’ is highly culturally mandated and socially constructed.
And even deeper still, the very consciousness that is our life is something we all share and emanate within.
Truly, there is not your life and my life, but there is LIFE.
Henceforth, our physical wellbeing is a microcosm of the whole, and in tending to that with care, wisdom and insight, we are benefiting our immediate conditions for growth well beyond the physical realm.
On a more prosaic note, a diet regiment and a dependable gym routine helps is in making valuable sacrifices (such as junk food and laziness, both illusory forms of ‘pleasure’) while inspiring us to stay on the tracks of healthy, positive living.
You may well hear many detractors of this lifestyle, with many mediocre normie-types critiquing such a commitment, yet do not challenge such people and leave them to live their way, the reason we live this way is because we’ve been trained by life in the value of discipline, health and the huge importance of sacrifice.
In essence, we should be pleased with our path and respect others on theirs.
Finally, as I point out in the above video, the gym is excellent in teaching us vital life lessons.
This isn’t about looking great to show off to girls (or yourself in the mirror) but learning that solid, long-term commitment brings slow, but real rewards.
The lessons you can learn in the gym, if you’re keeping your mind off the softcore porn music videos and trashy songs, are vital in our growth.
7: Create values and goals
The creation of goals in your life has been credited with combating mental illness to even securing better results in the gym, yet when looking at how to stop addictive behaviour they work so well because they provide direction to your existence.
Without said direction, we run the risk of floating aimlessly and this is extremely dangerous, as we’re all the more likely to fall into temptations, complacency and reliance on external things when we don’t have a strong vision.
However, vision alone isn’t enough as it can be shaken by temptation.
To shore things up you must develop a sense of your values, as values are the hidden core that gives a vision and goals their power.
In From Lost Boy to Awakened Man, I explore how discovering, changing and implementing values is actually very complex and even dangerous.
Remember that every human being is part of a network, this means that our value systems are deeply inherited from your family, your culture and your life experiences.
Henceforth, you cannot simply move around a value system in an afternoon and it is better to be aware of your value system, how that impacts your life and where you want to make change safe in the knowledge of how that will affect other areas of your life.
Once you are clear on what you’re about, then you’re ready to set goals that will harmonise with your inner truth rather than you’re more surface, shallow wants and needs.
I’ve written about the central importance of sacrifice already in this piece, yet it deserves it’s own step because it’s a dynamic that we will need as we grow on our journey.
My experience of personal transformation is very much a battle followed by peace and while this peace is nourishing for a while, eventually I find myself a bit too complacent and unchallenged.
This is why we must utilise sacrifice time and again as we continue on our journey of self-discovery and transformation.
While you may utilise these steps to learn how to stop addictive behaviour, once you are someway down that path, other life issues will rear their head.
You may have quit drinking but are finding yourself smoking cigarettes, and while that was a crutch while tackling a bigger addiction, it is now time to sacrifice that too as you’re more comfortable in your sober life.
In essence, every sacrifice must be the release of something that the ego views as ‘good’ that is replaced by something that is genuinely good for your long-term growth.
For example, you give-up porn and start actually talking to real girls and focussing on forming genuine bonds.
9: Create a community
It is indeed a truism that no man is an island.
In your journey of growth and awakening, you need fellow travellers, people who can offer you insight, counsel, guidance and shared struggles.
This may involve a sacrifice of old ‘friends’ for new, yet making powerful life changes has a way of showing you who’s really on your side and who is really there for short-term laughs.
Further, much is written today about men ‘sharing their feelings’ as a supposed solution to issues such as addiction, anxiety and depression.
Regular readers will know I have mixed feelings about this approach, firstly because, while talking helps initially, it won’t help long-term, and secondly because you need to ensure you’re talking to the right people.
This is where having a community of likeminded men is very powerful, there are things we can share, say and work on that are unique to us as men, thereby creating very strong authentic bonds – something sorely lacking for many of us today.
There are a raft of communities you can join, from addiction recovery groups, to ‘men’s work’ movements to sites like Meet-Up which can aggregate your areas of interest
The 9-Step List on How to Stop Addictive Behaviour
- Accept you cannot do it alone (and why that’s good)
- Be willing to die to what you are
- Embrace rebirth
- Cleanse your soul
- Cleanse your life
- Cleanse your body
- Establish values, vision and goals
- Make sacrifices
- Create or join a community
If you enjoyed this content, consider getting Richard’s free book, From Lost Boy to Awakened Man, which goes into this process and the transformational journey in more dynamic and practical detail