Psychoactive drugs and other addictive activities mimic the hormones released when we bond with someone. They reward us with feelings of love in an instant without the inconvenience of relationships.

Psychoactive drugs are especially popular in industrialized and disintegrating communities where relationships are distant and trust and intimacy are abused. Most drug takers don't feel good and have low self esteem. Often a result of childhood abuse.

The immediate relief outweighs the hangovers until the long term effects become disabling.

People who are happy and comfortable usually don't like the side-effects like feeling agitated, disoriented or uncomfortable.

physiological alternatives
Quitting is not just an intellectual activity. It is also physical. The pleasure centers hijack habits and thoughts to keep the rewards coming. The body's regulatory and metabolic systems adapt to addictive substances. Quitting requires getting in touch with these mechanisms and allowing them time to readjust.

The relaxation, meditation and physical exercises on the mind, body and stress pages are alternatives to drugs and other addictive activities. They produce many of the biochemical effects but without the dangerous side effects. They reduce the impact of withdrawal.

The effects of a drug can also be reproduced by remembering the sensations in the body when using the drug in the past or else mimicking the feelings and movements of someone else using it. This can be used to enter into the same state that the drug induced but without the side effects.

Homeopathic doses at C dilutions could be tried to reduce cravings.

Overcoming physical cravings is half the task. The other half is finding alternatives for the psychological part of the addiction. Even if the original stressors that caused an addiction are long gone the addiction can continue, reinforced by the reminders, habits and social circles of an addicted lifestyle.

Activities, things, and places associated with the addiction can be reminders that trigger cravings. Many are difficult to avoid because they are satisfying in themselves or part of everyday life. Years after a physical addiction is over the memories evoked by one of these triggers can set off memories of craving and relief complete with similar sensations in the body. They may even revive the pain and the insecurities that led to the addiction.

Being aware of these triggers and the old feelings they bring up is the key to managing them. Note the places, habit, objects or daily routines that precede or trigger an addicted activity. Perhaps write them down. Everyone's triggers are different. For example:

Going to the ATM on the way to the pokies.

Poker machines use everyday sounds like mobile ring tones to signal a win so whenever a pokies addict hears the sound they find themselves wanting to get to the nearest jackpot usually without even being consciously aware of where the impulse came from.

Setting up the computer or getting a drink before sitting at the computer might precede an internet addicted episode.

Closing the door before unwrapping a syringe.

Opening the door to go outside before taking a cigarette.

Making a coffee before lighting up a cigarette.

Lighting up a cigarette before taking the first sip of coffee

Provoking an argument before storming off to the pub.

Feeling agitated, insecure or depressed.

Inviting friends over for a drink.

alternative habits
Sometimes one addiction takes the place of another. Someone I know noticed years after quitting cigarettes that he held and moved his coffee cup in almost exactly the same way as a cigarette and realised that he had switched from one addiction to another all those years ago.

Is there another response to a trigger that would be satisfying without lighting up, pouring a drink or heading off to the pokies?

If we are aware of these triggers we can lie in wait for them and prepare to substitute some other activity like:

Go for a walk

ring a friend

take a deep breath

have a drink of water


go to the movies

go for a bike ride

These examples might sound trivial but they do work. Everyone is different and will find different alternatives.

Most drug taking and distribution are social or shopping rituals with friends or medical professionals. Quitting leaves a gap. The solution is to create a new life complete with friends and satisfying things to do.