What is Self Control in Addiction?


Is there a way to exercise more self control when in addiction recovery? Are there strategies that an individual can implement to prevent them from relapsing? Yes, there are. There are ways to resist cravings and overcome negative thoughts, and remain in self control when going through a rough patch in recovery.

How Belief Drives Addiction

Believing negative thoughts or things can compel substance abuse. If an individual believes that they cannot stop their addictive behavior, or that they have no control over what they do, it is almost certain that they will engage in harmful, addictive behavior. The negative beliefs become excuses. Everyone has voices inside their heads that tell them they cannot do something, or that they cannot stop doing something. It is only true if the individual chooses to believe it. But when the individual practices mindfulness and awareness and tells themselves that they are in total control, their beliefs changes, thus helping them avoid harmful behavior.

The Difference between Thoughts and Beliefs

Thoughts are not the same as beliefs. For example, an individual can think all day that they’re a banana, but won’t believe it at the end of the day. Therefore, thinking something and believing something are two different things. When the individual starts believe their thoughts, it makes a difference to their lives. Especially when it comes to addictive behavior, it’s what the individual believes rather than what they think about that makes a difference.

Changing Beliefs

Can beliefs be changed? Of course they can be. Individuals change what they believe all the time, when they are presented with new or different information as opposed to what they started out believing. In recovery, the individual must make an effort to start acting in a way that is consistent with different words and thoughts.

Exerting Self Control

Outside of emergencies or events that cannot be controlled, it is fair to say that individuals have a lot of self control over what they choose to do. An individual who believes, for example, that not having a drink or a cigarette is more important that having that drink or smoking that cigarette, will choose to do something else, no matter how intense the urge. Self control can be exerted if it is consistent with what the individual believes.

Tips to Improve Self Control

  1. Planning Ahead – Self control can be strengthened if the individual starts planning ahead for tricky situations, like how to avoid drinking when going to a party. This could mean bringing along a friend to keep the individual focused and in check, or having a response ready when asked about drinking.
  2. Eat – Researchers have found that blood sugar levels can affect the ability to exert self control. Using self control depletes blood sugar levels, so keeping a small snack at hand and ensuring a balanced diet will go a long way towards being in control.
  3. Exercise – This seems to be a cure all. The benefits of exercise are seemingly endless. A healthy body appears to have a powerful impact on the mind. Regular exercise has been shown to improve willpower in all areas of an individual’s lives, including drinking, smoking and drug addiction.

Sustain Recovery provides a unique approach to adolescent care with our extended residence programs. Adolescents are given the life skills required for their transition to sober living. Contact us to learn about how our programs can benefit you.