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Some people find themselves addicted from the first drink of alcohol, or the first hit of anything that provides an overwhelming euphoria. This could be due to the personal reinforcement the addiction provides which differs from person to person or, it could be because the substance is designed to be extremely powerful.

For other people, addiction happens over an extended time. For these individuals, the psychological and physical effects of addiction start off as causal or social pleasure but then become all-consuming.

If you try something so overpowering that you find you can’t stop doing it, then you have already received the first and final warning sign. Unless this behavior is something that won’t harm you, you have received all the caution you ever need, and you should stop after this first experience in being powerless.

If you have developed what you think is a ‘habit,’ then be aware that this is just another word for denial. As we all know, habits are difficult to break because habits are merely the early signs of addiction.

We are not talking about the habit of keeping a daily routine, brushing your teeth, or putting your shoes on a certain way. We are talking about behavior that leads to compulsive, addictive behavior that results in negative consequences — harm to yourself or others.

One of the early warning signs of addiction is the need to partake in order to feel like you can fit in and have fun. Have you ever asked yourself why you need an addiction to feel connected? While this might be considered normal, it can lead you to the point that you don’t want to engage in regular activities without your addiction; you’ve already crossed over the line.

Using something for stress reduction is another early sign. There are plenty of healthy ways to reduce stress. The more you use something to relax, the more dependent you become on that unhealthy resource. There are plenty of ways to relax. The first and foremost is not to overdo it in the first place. Manage your time effectively and minimize the pressure. For those times when you have no control, if you take short breaks to decompress, a few deep breaths, and exercise you can stay relaxed under pressure.

It’s Not You That’s in Control, Your Addiction Is

The most vital sign of early addiction is a loss of control. A person loses the ability to predict how much or how they will behave.

When a person loses the ability to predict how much and how often, they cannot stick to a set amount (i.e. unable to stop once they start, unable to remain abstinent after a period of time, etc.). This is a person who claims they will drink one drink, smoke two cigarettes a day, eat ten jelly beans, only gamble $5.00, play digital games for a half-hour, watch one porn site a week, etc., and finds over and over again that this is an impossible mission.

The other form of loss of control occurs when a person cannot predict how they will act once they do engage (i.e. personality changes, blackouts, binging, etc.). As another example, a person becomes aggressive, can’t remember what happened, or goes missing for long periods.

All addictions become progressively worse over time. Attempts to control only increase denial and pull the user deeper into the addiction maze.

If you’ve been trying to control a particular behavior, it’s already too late. We are not here to judge; we care about you. You can stay inside the maze your whole life allowing your addiction to convince you that you don’t have a problem. If you decide you deserve better than being trapped in addiction and you think you can’t stop because you’ve already tried on your own; we are here to help.

Letting Go is the Way to Go

Fighting an addiction will only lure you deeper into the maze. It’s like an insect trying to get out of a spider’s web; the greater the struggle, the tighter the web wraps itself around the insect. Once you let go of the control and use your will to stop rather than control, you have taken the first important step. Once you are abstinent, you can then go into the permanent healing steps we offer.

You may have lost your way, but you can use all of your past experiences to your benefit now. We want you to have the life you were gifted with to live, not as a slave to something that promises pleasure while it slowly kills you and robs you of joy, loved ones, and your life’s purpose.

Are you ready to face the underlying cause of your addiction and make room for the peace and joy that is the natural state in which you were born?

You can start right now by deciding that you are worth saving.

Can you relate? Please share your comments or insights below.

If you want to connect with Dr. Donna Marks, and find out about her tools and programs on how to Reclaim Your Power Over Addiction, visit her website

About the Author — Dr. Donna Marks believes that the current models for diagnosis, treatment, and addiction have failed. Her mission is to help save at least 10 million lives by 2030, through education and prevention. She has been an author, consultant, educator, public speaker, licensed psychotherapist, instructor of A Course in Miracles, and addictions counselor in private practice in Palm Beach, Florida, for more than thirty years.

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