Psychotherapy  & Naturopathic Services in Etobicoke

How to break addiction habits

When breaking a habit, or an addiction, repetition is key. There must be stable context cues available in order to trigger a new pattern. It’s easier to maintain the behavior if it’s repeated in a specific context. When the cues for existing habits are removed, it’s easier to form a new behaviour. Practicing abstinence from substances or alcohol in similar situations or places provide this context. Having an initial cue is a crucial component.

A lot of our daily lives consist of habits we develop over a lifetime. They become automatic, and it becomes difficult to recognize them in our own behaviour. We may not realize it, but if you recorded your week’s activities, you would see that at least half are repeated day in and day out. They become comfortable patterns of behaving, and are often rewarded with some form of reinforcement (such as appraisal from another person).

Intentions are usually the beginning of the process of forming a new habit. Most often, we aware of our intentions. Intentions can change quickly because we can make conscious decisions about what we want to do in the future that may be different from the past. However, when the habitual mind is engaged, our habits function largely outside of awareness. Habits change slowly through repeated experience. Our minds don’t always adapt in the best way possible. Even when you know the right answer, the habitual behaviour remains rigid and stubborn.

Educational programs and counselling/ therapy are geared toward improving your day-to-day habits. These standard interventions are very successful at increasing motivation and desire. You will almost always leave feeling like you can change and that you want to change. The programs give you knowledge and goal-setting strategies for implementation, but these programs only address the intentional mind. This means that you must enter with the intention to change and the desire to change. Getting there is often half the battle.

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