Overcoming Addiction

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On 12th December 2017, Kenyans were bewildered that Githeri man was receiving a presidential award for his role in unifying the country in the 2017 elections. Months later, a close follow-up on the gentleman showed that he was a shadow of his former self; having spent his funds on alcohol.  Recently, we are witnessing former celebrities resurface to ask for help, and once they receive the aid, some spend the funds on detrimental habits.

An addiction is a chronic dysfunction of the brain system that involves reward, motivation, and memory. As a way to reward the system, the body craves a substance or practice, and the addict obsessively pursues it without thinking of the consequences.  Dependency results from genetics, family history, early age of initial exposure, mental illness, and family turmoil. We often relate addictions with alcohol and substance abuse, but behavioural habits can be termed as addictions. These include addictions to sex, pornography, gambling, shopping, food, social media or the internet, and gaming.

Substance abuse is easy to identify because of the signs exhibited like agitation, stained nails and fingertips, needle marks, memory lapses, blackouts, and moodiness. Contrary to this, behavioral addictions are ‘hidden’ because there are no physical signs, and most individuals do not realize the problem until relationships or finances are on the brink of disaster.

As someone close to the addict, it may be easier to point out that something is wrong, but the individual may be in constant denial. Until they decide to change, every effort towards helping them can be futile. Before they make the decision, you can only support them but not enable the habit.  Quitting is a gradual process, and in case of any relapse, the addict should not beat themselves up or label themselves a failure. Instead, they should keep moving towards being a ‘clean’ individual.

Recovering from addiction

  1. Decide to change
  2. Prepare to change by removing addictive substances around you
  3. Avoid replacement behaviors such as shopping or gamming to take up the time previously held for the addiction
  4. Change relationships and friendships that encourage indulgence
  5. Find an accountability partner. The partner should be supportive, ready to listen, and not judgmental
  6. Reach out for support. Either subscribe to a rehabilitation center more so in substance addiction, find an anonymous group, or in the case of sex/porn addiction for men, sign up for the powerhouse program by Ernest Wamboye
  7. Be patient because the recovery process won’t happen overnight
  8. Be ready to deal with temptations. Self-discipline is a virtue to uphold in this case
  9. Forgive yourself for being in the situation and the mess you may have created. Make the realization that you are not bad because you are an addict
  10. Identify your triggers. If depression and loneliness are contributing to you having the bottle, puff, or injection, find activities that effectively manage these situations
  11. Celebrate your wins. Do not shy away from motivating yourself by appreciating the journey towards being ‘clean’

As a family, it is challenging to have an addict around. Instead of covering up the problem or bashing and condemning them, cultivate patience and be supportive. However, if it gets violent or there is open drug use at home, and you may be at risk. Consequently, it is okay to take a step back.

To overcome this menace ruining lives, relationships, and draining finances, accepting the problem and making the bold step towards getting better is paramount. Remember, there is no shame in admitting weaknesses and seeking help.


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