It’s one thing to have an addiction – acknowledging it is another thing. Here’s a step-by-step guide to moving out of denial and into recovery.

Sure, your chocolate/shopping/Facebook habit might be hunky-dory, it might be – or you could be in this stage.

“The first step to breaking free from addiction is knowing you have a problem, finding the source to the problem, and finding other ways to deal with the problem. I have seen many addicts successfully recover once they find alternative ways to handle and face the issues they are dealing with,” says Adelaide drug and alcohol abuse counsellor Alisha Hughes.

Once you’ve slunk out of denial, you don’t have to give it the flick. But you can evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the addiction. (Let’s face it, it serves some purpose. You might feel as though you kinda like it.)

If you decide the cons outweigh the pros – enough to put up with the discomfort of practising new ways of being – you’ll lay the groundwork for practical steps to change. This stage includes completing a plan with a timeline.

You start to implement the plan and may seek support to make it stick, such as self-help, counselling or a support group.

After a few months, you have managed to change your behaviour and your goal is to maintain your new modus operandi.

Although not inevitable, relapses are a normal part of the change cycle and, if handled well, can serve as learning experiences with real growth value. Rather than trying to avoid relapse (and beating yourself up or throwing in the towel when it does happen), it can be useful to expect it – this allows you to prepare some relapse prevention strategies based.

It might seem as though you’ll never kick back and recount the days when you were beholden to a behaviour, but the steps for successful DIY rehab culminate in so-called ‘termination’. In other words, freedom.

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