Many people take the beginning of January as an opportunity to make a positive change in their lives. Here, addiction specialist Lauren Windle shares the things you should know if you want to successfully give something up.


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New year’s is when people give things up. I’m not an advocate of waiting till a new year/month/Monday to make a change. I think now is always the best time. But as “now” happens to be the start of January, here are a recovering addict’s tips for giving something up:

  1. Be clear about your goals. If you allow yourself shades of grey, you will take the mick. “To drink less” is not a goal. “To only drink two days a week and cap it at three glasses” is.
  2. Tell someone what you’re working towards but (for the sake of your relationship) be clear with them about what level of intervention you would like. If you want them to pull you up on your choices, say so. But equally if you want them to leave you to it, make that clear.
  3. Observe yourself. If you find it hardest when you’re tired, make sure to stick to your bed time. If it’s when you’re hungry, make sure there are healthy snacks available. If it’s in the evening (I don’t know why the evening is such a killer) plan to phone someone.
  4. Don’t beat yourself up if you get it wrong. This is not a resolution you can ruin, it’s a lifestyle change you may need to work at.
  5. If you’re cutting down on/cutting out something screen related (porn/online gambling/social media/online shopping) set a time in the evening to make sure everything is off and don’t take any devices into your bedroom.
  6. There are tools available to help you: books, podcasts, charities, anonymous meetings, therapists, doctors, supportive friends/family, churches. Use any/all you can to aid your journey.
  7. The idea that resisting something you’re trying to stay away from feels good is a myth. It *will* feel good long term but in the short term it will be uncomfortable and uncertain and raw while you find new coping mechanisms. That will fade in time.
  8. Finally know that you *can* do this. Even if it doesn’t feel like it. If I can - you definitely can. In a study of cannabis addicts they found that the main factor associated with successful recovery was self-efficacy. THEY BELIEVED THEY COULD.