Abstinence - Drug Addiction

This means refraining from an activity which is known to be harmful and addictive. Doing this involves not taking a particular substance, avoiding areas where this is likely to be on offer or adopting a healthier lifestyle.

An example of this is smoking in which people choose to avoid places where smoking is prevalent although the smoking ban has taken care of much of that.

If alcohol is a problem then avoiding pubs or social situations in which drink is a factor is also an option.

Abstinence can be practised by someone who knows that they have an addictive personality, for example caffeine and who decide to remove all forms of temptation. It may also be the case that they realise that taking on substance can lead to another, for example, smoking when having a drink.

Some people choose to abstain because they don’t want to develop an addiction even though there isn’t a risk of this happening. They may do this because they have seen this happen to a member of their family or a close friend.

Another possibility is that a person has grown up in an environment in which they were exposed to addiction and want to avoid this happening to them. They know how destructive this can, both mentally and physically plus the effects it has on other people. This often means removing themselves from a place in which this could happen.

How do you abstain?

This is a difficult thing to do and requires a huge amount of will power and self-control. It means adopting a positive outlook and being able to say ‘no’ if offered anything such as alcohol or cigarettes.

It also means looking for healthier ways of dealing with stress or other problems in their life, for example exercise or taking up a new hobby.

This is fine for someone who has never become dependent upon a substance but what about an addict?

An addict will have to recognise withdrawal symptoms of their addiction and adopt a coping strategy which includes how to deal with these if and when they arise. This may mean making a new set of friends or socialising with people where there is no temptation to relapse, for example avoiding going to pubs or a drink after work.

Joining a support group and/or learning a new hobby or activity can also help.

It is a good idea to talk about this with your GP as he/she can advise you on ways of doing so, medication to help with withdrawal and details of support groups in your area.

Mention this to family and friends and enlist their support. Doing this along with your GP’s help will give you a better chance of beating your addiction.


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