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Top 10 Tips to Avoid Addiction


Tip: Addiction is an incurable but controllable disease. All we need to do is to understand our situation, accept all the help we can, and have faith that we can lead a normal life, one day at a time.

“I am not an addict. I don’t need tips on how to avoid addiction.”

Well, maybe not right now, but you can't be too sure. Drug addiction, alcoholism, substance abuse and peripheral addictions such as gambling and sex are affecting more lives each day. Even children as young as 4 years have begun to be affected by this dreadful disease. Today, addiction accounts for more deaths and destruction than any other factor. It’s growing at such an alarming rate that the UN has declared it a global pandemic, and has declared a global war on addiction.

Addiction is more appropriately called 'chemical dependency', because it is usually caused by the deficiency of naturally occurring mood altering enzymes, such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which are mood altering enzymes in the brain. Addicts crave to compensate for this deficiency through other external sources, but what they do not realize is that this chemical dependency only deepens and worsens over time, resulting in a life of misery, penury, ignominy and suffering, both for the addicts and their families and friends. Left unchecked, addicts usually end up first on the streets, then in various rehabilitation facilities, prisons, or mental institutions. And of course, an untimely, horribly painful death is the ultimate inevitability.

However, help is at hand. Today, more and more people are beginning to realize that addiction is not a wanton condition, and have begun to accept it for the pathological disease that it actually is. Several organizations, chief among them being Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and its sister organization Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have specialized methodologies to arrest an individual’s addiction, and to put them back on the track of a normal life. Another sister organization, Al-Anon, helps to rehabilitate the families of addicts. Religions institutions, social organizations, and even corporates and businesses today are willing to help those addicts who want to help themselves.

But one does not have to go through the risk laden cycle of pain and agony of addiction and rehabilitation to return to a normal life. The proverbial prevention is more essential in the case of addiction than anywhere else. So here are the top 10 tips to prevent addiction, and to help you lead a normal life without ever having to go through the pain of this dreaded disease that has been aptly described as ‘cunning, baffling, and powerful.’

1. Assess yourself. Are you an addict? You can determine this by truthfully answering the 20- question Addiction Test (http://www.leecountyaa.org/questions.html).
2. If you seem to display the characteristics of an addict, or heading to be one, seek help immediately. The best way would be to approach your local AA or NA Chapter and speak to the counsellor there. With their help, you might need to visit a detoxification center or even spend a brief stint at a rehabilitation center. The list of AA and NA chapters is available at the their website (http://www.aa.org/lang/en/subpage.cfm?page=71).
3. If you’re not an addict, well, you can celebrate. But wait, that doesn’t mean you won’t become one. So the first thing is to ensure you stay that way. Learn about addiction. You can start by reading all you can about addiction and the horrors it can bestow upon anyone who falls into its death trap. Begin with AA and NA publications. Look up the internet. Talk to recovering addicts you know.
4.  Keep your friends circle limited to non-addicts.
5. Maintain excellent relations with your family members and friends, and make at least one confidant among them with whom you can share any information you want and call out for help when you need it. Discuss addiction and related problems with them on an informal basis.
6. When you attend office or other parties, there’s nothing wrong if you tell them you’re a teetotaler. In fact, you should feel proud of it, and you can rest assured many people will appreciate you for it.
7. Attend AA or NA meetings in your locality at least twice a month, and listen to the sharings there. Take whatever concerns you, and leave behind what doesn’t apply to you.
8. Whenever you have the time, take up some social cause that appeals to you. It need not necessarily concern addiction – it could be doing service at a Blue Cross or SPCA center, or spending time with the aged at an old age home or at an orphanage.
9.  Never carry too much money with you. Temptation strikes when your pockets are full – even if it does not tempt you directly, your wallet might attract the wrong kind of attention from your ‘using’ friends, and you might end up not only footing the bill, but also in falling into the addiction trap. So keep your wallet light, and out of sight of anyone else.
10. This is the most important. When you feel the urge to indulge, reach out to that special person who’ll be able to talk you out of it, or one who can reach you wherever you are at any time of day or night. That could be a friend, an AA or NA member, or a family member.

These top 10 tips for avoiding addiction will not only help you keep this deadly killer disease at bay, it will also help you get closer to family and friends. Moreover, this way you can give back your bit of good to society. So don’t waste any time – start using these tips right away, and ensure that you live a long, healthy, happy, full and addiction free life!

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