Having healthy coping strategies can help you on your recovery journey. Before being able to apply different coping strategies we must first identify the type of addiction. In many instances coping strategies can overlap and be used to help with different addictions.
When you think of addiction, what comes to mind? Once upon a time addiction was most commonly associated with substance abuse. Since the 1990s the term addiction has adjusted to include not only substance addictions but behavioural addictions (gambling, shopping, eating, and now the internet). Behavioural addiction can be defined as a form of addiction that involves a compulsion to engage in rewarding non-substance-related behaviour- despite any negative consequences to the person’s physical, mental, social, or financial well-being.
Statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association show that approximately 21% of the population will meet the criteria for addiction in their lifetime. Usually, people who have addictions have poor coping management strategies and require long-term treatment plans. Here’s a shortlist of different addictions and some healthy coping strategies for each one.
Healthy Coping Strategies For Addiction
Whether gambling online or in person, a strong support system to help you overcome the urge to gamble is important. Support group programs like “a 12-step program” can help get you back on track. With today’s technology, we have the ability to block ourselves from the internet; “blocksite: block websites and stay focused” is an app worth mentioning.
For workaholics, it might be worth it to get a virtual assistant. Knowing you have someone taking care of specific tasks can provide mental relief and get you away from your work. Another coping strategy is to modify your daily routines so that you intercept yourself from engaging with computers right away. If you typically check your phone first thing in the morning, make the conscious decision to get your list of chores done before even touching the phone. Some apps can be utilized, like the one mentioned above, to help reduce the frequency and time spent on the internet.
Healthy coping strategies when struggling with an addiction to porn begin by removing all saved forms of porn. This would include porn saved on your phone, computer, or from any magazines, booklets, or photos you might have. Try implementing website blockers and giving the password to a trusted friend or family member. Another strategy is replacing a poor habit with a more adaptive one. For instance, going for a run when you feel the need to watch porn is a healthy way to distract yourself. It’s important to be compassionate with yourself and not to beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon.
Video Game Addiction
When coping with an addiction to video games it’s important to manage the amount of time you spend gaming. An easy way to manage your time is by picking a specific number of hours that you can game and setting a countdown on your phone. If there is too much freedom in that technique, there are apps that can be used to immobilize video game functions.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Bringing awareness to your cravings and what triggers them can be powerful. If you’re able to, jump into another activity or call a loved one who will support you through the craving. Another idea is to remove any triggers from your environment. For example, if your favourite movie has lots of scenes of drug use, it’s best not to watch that movie. Being aware of your environment can be critical as well. If you’re trying to stop smoking but all your friends are constantly smoking, try finding activities that you can do with them when they aren’t smoking.
At Simcoe Addiction and Mental Health, we have trained professionals to help those with addictions to gambling, the internet, porn/sex, video games, alcohol, and drugs. Click here to read more about specific treatments.