Students Against AddictionA submission by Students Against Addiction: Overcoming Addiction: Finding the Right Method and Being Intentional.

Overcoming Addiction: Finding the Right Method and Being Intentional


Crystalyn Plake

When attempting to overcome an alcohol addiction, one of the hardest things about it may be the trial-and-error nature of finding the right method by which to beat your addiction. One of the best ways to begin this process is figuring out why you became addicted. Laurence M. Westreich, M.D., author of Helping the Addict You Love, states, “Before you try to help a person with substance use disorder, it’s important that you know and understand exactly what addiction is. That is, why and how people become addicts and the kind of substances to which they become addicted” (Westreich 20). Was it simply the fun of drinking that led to addiction? Or did a stressful situation, peer pressure, or an inherited inclination towards drinking cause you to become dependent?

Once you’ve pinpointed the reason(s), it may be easier to choose which method to try. Be thorough and honest in your reasoning. For example, if you are opposed to treatment centers, are you opposed to professional treatment because of pride, or do you have insecurities that have proven to you in the past that you do not benefit from professional treatment? If it is simply pride, it is better to try a treatment center for a period of time with an open mind than to completely outlaw even the thought of something you have not yet experienced.

If you are opposed to self-help, are you opposed to treating yourself because you have a strong dependency on the support of others, or is it because you have tried and failed at doing things on your own in the past and acknowledge your need for strong support? If it is the former, ask yourself and/or someone who knows you well if you rely too heavily on others to give you help and support. If the answer is yes, it will be best to incorporate aspects of self-recovery into your routine and learn to function by means of your own strength. However, getting some form of outside help—professional or friend-/family-based—will be essential, as is the case no matter what method you end up choosing.

Now let us go over the general ideas of how these different methods of healing work. Remember that no method for overcoming addiction is generally better than another, but seeing a doctor or utilizing professional treatment options in the beginning stages of recovery is highly recommended, not only to help a person get into a mindset of recovery, but more importantly to monitor the dangerous physical effects than can come with abstaining from the substance he is addicted to.

Professional treatment is characterized by counseling, storytelling, and monitoring of physical wellness. It provides a sort of retreat for patients and allows them to truly hone in on strategies for recovery while doing it in a safe, supportive environment. Even if this method is not ideal for you in the long run, it can be a very good place to start because of the severity that withdrawal symptoms can carry, as mentioned by Harry Haroutunian, MD of the Betty Ford Center and author of Being Sober, “We don’t want patients to start detoxing before treatment. For many, especially alcoholics, detoxification is dangerous and deadly and should be medically supervised” (Haroutunian 62).

The key factor that is seen most often in self-help stories and advice is this: to ask yourself what strategies, routines, and mindsets you must incorporate into your life to help you get through your addiction, such as avoiding situations that you know will tempt you to overdrink or staying away from alcohol altogether. On top of knowing your limits and getting yourself in the right mindset, surrounding yourself with friends and family who will support you and keep you accountable—people you feel comfortable talking to—is essential to staying in recovery. Stanton Peele, Ph.D., J.D., author of 7 Tools to Beat Addiction, presents seven methods that he has seen the benefits of in thousands of addicts who overcame their addictions without treatment: “(1) values, (2) motivation, (3) rewards, (4) resources, (5) support, (6) a mature identity, and (7) higher goals” (Peele 15). Peele’s tools line up well with the findings of other self-help advocates such as Robert Granfield and William Cloud, authors of Coming Clean: Overcoming Addiction Without Treatment, as they cause the addict to reevaluate priorities, dream up new life goals, and rediscover the importance of family and friends.

Getting support from loved ones, a critical part of overcoming a person with substance use disorderion, can be one of the hardest things for some people to do. It can be strange asking for help, but it will always surprise you how willing and honored your loved ones will be when you reach out to them. Make sure that these are people who will be just as open and honest with you as you will have to be with them, because they—or at least not all of them—should not simply offer words of encouragement, they should be challenging you to come at this addiction from different directions when you struggle or fail. Unconditional love never sits back and politely offers kind words when another’s well-being is at stake; it is relentless in getting truth out and protecting people. So, if you have a loved one who challenges you on your journey, makes a point to stay in touch with you, and remains understanding (or even several people who hold these different attributes), you have truly found a gem of a companion.

Overcoming addiction is never easy, and there is no sure-fire way to go about overcoming it, but being intentional, hopeful, and excited about the future is a great way to start, whether you choose to use professional treatment or your own strategies. And when you have overcome your addiction, don’t let your past hold you back, but never forget where you came from.


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Works Cited


Granfield, Robert, and William Cloud. Coming Clean: Overcoming Addiction Without Treatment. New York: New York University Press, 1999. Print.


Haroutunian, Harry L., MD. Being Sober: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting to, Getting Through, and Living in Recovery. New York: Rodale, 2013. Print.


Peele, Stanton, Ph.D., J.D. 7 Tools to Beat Addiction. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2004. Print.


Westreich, Laurence M., M.D. Helping the Addict You Love: The New Effective Program for Getting the Addict into Treatment. New York: Fireside, 2007. Print.