T Nation

Kicking Addictions and Habits


#1

Up until 5 years ago, I was essentially a functioning drunk. Today, I rarely drink and don’t much miss it. Along the way, I replaced my drinking lifestyle with a fitness addiction bordering on obsession at different times. Now as far as numbers, it doesn’t appear I’m obsessed but that’s due to some program hopping early on, an injury, and a traveling job for a year. My point/question is more in regards to how you break habits/addictions. I tend to replace addictions with another, trying to pick one that is “better” for me/my goals.

My current addictions, that I would like to see go are smokeless tobacco (snuff) and caffeine (mainly sodas).

What techniques have some of you used for either of these, or other habits? I.e. Cold turkey, replacement, tapering, etc.


#2

I can only kick bad habits cold turkey. Moderation has never worked for me.


#3

I only did snuff once but I smoked cigarettes for 15 years before quitting.

As cheesy as it sounds, you REALLY have to want to be a person who no longer uses tobacco. Making that commitment to yourself is the most important thing. I “wanted” to quit for at least 10 of those 15 years, but I obviously didn’t want it bad enough. Nope, I wanted my fix more.

As for the quitting process itself, I bought one last pack of cigarettes and gave them to my girlfriend to ration out. 5 on the first day. 4 on the next, 3 after that, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, something like that. I actually ended up tossing the last few out.

My sex drive was basically shot for a month after quitting. I put a lot of weight on because I snacked like there was a pack of Camels waiting for me underneath those potato chips. That’s part of the process for a lot of smokers.

However you pull it off, you’ll need to tough out the suck. For cigarettes the first two weeks were miserable and I really felt like I was out-of-the-woods after a month.

Good luck!


#4

I quit smoking cold turkey 10 years ago after smoking for 25 years. I couldn’t taper. I was either smoking or I wasn’t. I drank a shit ton of tea and joined a gym for the first time in my life. Physically it wasn’t difficult but mentally I had to re-envision myself when I’d typically be smoking.


#5

Along the lines of @twojarslave post, I sorta needed something to make me really want to break some of my bad habits.

Two years ago, I really didn’t give a shit about my health. I mean, I’d eat okay and lift weights, but, I wasn’t serious about it and I hadn’t been serious about it in years. I pretended like I was, but I was just kidding myself.

Fast forward to now, I have an 18-month-old son that needs his father. It’s cliche, but he’s changed how I look at a lot of things including my health. I don’t want to be some sickly barely in my 50s with one foot in the grave dad bod having example for him when he’s a young man. Now, I eat salads instead of Chick Fil A for lunch, I get blood work done (lol), I walk instead of playing hours of videos games, etc…

He is my reason to be better.


#6

Put up a picture poster board with 2 sides:
WANT. / DON’T WANT

Put up pictures of you achieving your goals under want. Put up pictures of the outcome of your bad behaviours if they continue on the other side. For snuff put up a gruesome picture of mouth cancer and a picture of you photo-shopped in a coffin as a young man.

Put this poster somewhere you HAVE to look at it every single day. Stare at it for 15 seconds minimum. Force yourself to face your decisions.

I’m not a fan of overly positive mental attitude if you can’t tell.


#7

yep.

I’ve been in the iron game for a little while now, and I believe that MOST really good/great lifters either come from a shitty background/home life, or they are former addicts of some kind. Almost every strong dude I know was either an alcoholic or a drug addict in a past life, myself included (I was both). And yes, I consider my gym life a borderline addiction.

Can’t help ya with the caffeine. I consume quite a bit myself, but IF i wanted to quit, it would have to be something along the lines of what twojars said, and what I experienced when kicking my drug habit. I wanted to be a person who non longer used coke. I hated myself for it. This is why I think quitting something like caffeine might actually be more difficult. I enjoy the hell out of eleventy billion sodas a day, and i’ve seen no adverse affects from it other than the days when caffeine just isn’t readily available. So I have trouble imagining a scenario in which is was really, really important for me to not be a caffeine user.

If I did want to quit, I know I would taper, for sure. Caffeine withdrawal is a very real thing, and I would function poorly for weeks if I tried to quit cold turkey.


#8

I agree completely. Way back in the 90’s I went on a little bender with the nose beers, going through a few grams per day for a few months. It was a good thing I was selling weed, otherwise I would have been BROKE!

Coke was EASY for me to quit because it had a real sense of urgency to it. Something BAD was going to happen, and soon. We were dumb kids doing dumb stuff and I knew that it was a horrible path to go down. Every day felt like it could be the day where someone OD’d (which happened a few times to friends).

That’s why tobacco can be so sneaky. The bad side-effects can take a long time to materialize, and the sense of urgency just isn’t there for most people. Caffeine too.

Its so easy to tell yourself to quit tobacco tomorrow. I’m on caffeine for life though! Fuck it!


#9

I need a good habit to replace the bad habit. And it is easier to break a habit if I stay away from the triggering environment. That makes food addictions very difficult, but I’ve found it is a lot easier to leave it in the store than in the fridge.


#10

Absolutely this.


#11

Yes and no here. It was easy when I finally did it, but for awhile, it was hard to stop saying ‘ok, THIS is the last time’, and then making the next time the last time, etc. But when I finally made a commitment to stopping, I did it. The first time I went a week without it was when I quit for good. It did take an arrest for me to truly sense the urgency… and I only quit months after the arrest. Alcohol was only slightly trickier, but I had a sense of urgency there as well because I was being tested randomly for it several times a week for a year and a half (along with all other drugs).


#12

I’ve heard variations of this from Tate and Meadows. Have also seen and done it myself along with many other people. One of my mentors in sobriety does this immediately with the majority of people he sponsors with some pretty good outcomes.

On the actual quitting part- for me it had to be do or die. Sucks that it comes to that for a lot of people, but without a strong reason to change most people won’t.


#13

Thank you to everyone for the responses. I believe cold turkey is definitely the way to go. I have a 12 year old son, close to the age I started, and along with health concerns, it’s time this stopped for good. Going to keep the caffeine as my crutch and see about tapering the amount in the future…maybe.

Alcohol was easier than this because it affected my macros, lol. If Copenhagen had carbs and calories it’d have already been gone.


#14

Caffeine & nicotine combos are funny. They seem to become intertwined in the daily habits of using them.

I quit smoking for a few years and to do so a little easier I had to get away from coffee and sub it with green tea. The morning coffee and smoke were to tightly wrapped. Minus the coffee meant minus the trigger to smoke with it. Just a little tip. Your mileage may vary depending on whether or not that is a thing for you too.


#15

Sodas and my nicotine have never HAD to intertwine. With that being said I am cutting my morning caffeine in favor of milk (couldn’t possibly take a dip anywhere close to milk) and my peri workout caffeine in favor of 1/3 serving of mass gainer (same carbs, less likely to want snuff). Other than that my sodas are linked to my food with lots of water before and between meals.


#16

What a wholesome post.


#17

I’m so glad I don’t have an addictive personality with the amount of horrible shit I’ve polluted my body with.

Quitting smoking fucking sucked but all it really took for me was to move in with a girl who didn’t smoke. I didn’t want her to have to breathe my smoke every day, and I sure as hell wasn’t going outside to smoke like an animal.

Still like the occasional fag if I’m drinking, but that’s not an every day thing.


#18

That’s how it was for me. Not the link to coffee but linked to other habits and rituals. I had to change them and create new ones. It’s a good thing I wasn’t married/in a relationship at the time or sex would have been a problem :slight_smile: We are all predictable and have our behaviours deeply ingrained in us.


#19

Uh, what?


#20

No wonder that guy at work is giving you compliments. Lol