The #1 Way To DESTROY ADDICTION: Aversive Counterconditioning
Addiction is a harrowing thing. It’ll chew you up and spit it up if you let it. Often it’ll chew you up and spit you out even if you don’t let it. There are many techniques used to overcome addiction all with some level of efficacy, but most will provide only temporary resolution for most people before the controlling creature once again rears its head.
So how do we overcome addiction permanently?
How do we ensure we are able to live our lives as we wish to live them?
Enter aversive counterconditioning.
Now I don’t want to present this type of conditioning as a silver bullet, cure-all. It is incredibly powerful, and will likely unshackle you from the chains of compulsive behaviour, BUT only if you use it in conjunction with other techniques. You are battling a terrible, apathetic beast and cannot rely on just one form of attack. Come armed with the bows and arrows, the swords, the cauldrons of molten lava, the dynamo of psychological tricks. Bring back up in the form of friends and family and a support network of other ex-addicts. Come prepared. This won’t be easy. But it is necessary if you want your life back.
Ok, at this point you’re likely wondering what aversive counterconditioning is. Simply put, it is the rewiring of the emotional response to an input from positive to negative by overexposure. So take I’m a chain-smoker. Let’s say I smoke 60 fags a day. That’s just under 4 per hour for 16 hours. If we want to use aversive counterconditioning here I could instead cram 60 cigarettes into 2 hours. And at the same time, I can force myself to watch video after video of the most extreme victims of cigarettes. And as I watch the videos I can imagine my future self trading places with the patients.
And I would do this every time the trigger pops up.
Now, this may seem extreme – and it is – but you have to fire with fire. It’s also very zen. It’s using the power and energy of the addiction against itself to change your relationship with it. The object of your desire very quickly stops being desirable and instead becomes detestable.
What we want is for you to look or think about your addiction and feel physically repulsed. THAT is how you overcome an addiction. You must change your relationship with it. You must see it differently. For if you continue to see it as valuable and attractive, you will only hold out for as long as your willpower lasts and then you will cave. Using willpower to defeat cravings or bad habits is an ineffective strategy: willpower is finite. And addiction is as patient as it needs to be.
Think about it, you don’t want to live a life of misery. If you’re giving up something you absolutely love and that makes you feel whole, you won’t feel good. But giving up something you hate is easy.
So try aversive conditioning. Go as extreme as you can without harming yourself. You will be surprised at how quickly this technique rewires the brain and rids you of your dependency.
I discovered this technique in The Marshmallow Test by Walter Mischel. The book is absolutely jam-packed with many helpful tips for understanding and mastering self-control. Check it out here if you want to become more self-disciplined, become happier, more successful, have healthier, longer lasting relationships, and live longer. That’s everyone, right? Exactly – everyone should read this book.
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