What is an addiction?

According to the dictionary, addiction is a noun describing a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.

Tips to recognizing an addiction, specifically a carbohydrate or sugar addiction:

Think about the definition above for a few minutes....really take it in. Do you notice anything in your present or past that was an addiction? Carbohydrate and sugar addictions are very real and have become common, even promoted in the western diet. The hardest step of getting past an addiction is not stopping the habit itself, but keeping that habit from returning. Although relapse is highly likely in this process of habit change, do your best to avoid going back to your old habits. The most important part is keeping focused on the big picture and not falling prey to these short relapses. As innocent as a cookie may seem, for someone who has a sugar addiction, one cookie is all it takes to bring back those withdrawal pains. The biggest key is to stay focused, stay off the foods that are triggers, and don't give yourself a bite to "settle the urge."

Recognizing an addiction is the first step. The second step to beating an addiction is understanding the ‘why’. With an addiction there is typically a driver. The driver is the something pushing the user to a particular substance such as stress, anxiety, depression, anger, etc. There is usually an unaddressed emotion that has been suppressed, resulting in a need to escape in order to better avoid that building emotion. The substance of choice is your vice. The vice will come with a feeling of release that provides a temporary point of content and/or happiness. This is a result from the high that comes from the release of endorphins stimulated by the substance of choice, in this case sugar. Unfortunately, this only reinforces the habit. After the temporary high, the core of the stress is there, clearly addressing the suppressed emotion never happened. There was just release of stress or anxiety from the constant build up. In this step, dig deep and search for areas you have never allowed to heal. Try to better understand what the emotion is and why it is suppressed.

This brings me to the last and hardest step: letting go and moving on. In this step, address the emotion head on in efforts to come to a resolution or acceptance. The goal is to find closure in the efforts to move past this block. Keep it simple. Ask yourself, how does holding onto this emotion better me as a person? Is this emotion making my everyday more difficult? If so, do you think holding on to this emotion gives it more power and influence because you haven't been able to let it go?

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