Addiction support: escaping addiction

Addiction isn’t a life-long fate, but overcoming it takes strength, patience and, in most cases, professional support. Treatment options for addiction depend on the individual.

21.03.2023 Daniela Schori 4 minutes

Alcohol, tablets, mobile phones, cannabis – you can be addicted to a lot of things. Mentally, physically – or both. Addiction is a serious illness, but it is treatable.

The type of addiction support needed by an individual depends on the situation:

  • How is the person feeling?
  • What is the addictive substance or addictive behaviour?
  • What impact is addiction having on the affected person’s health and life?

Sometimes, all it takes is a self-help group or outpatient addiction treatment. In the event of long-term or extreme addictive behaviour, successfully quitting may require inpatient addiction treatment. One thing all addiction problems have in common is that quitting is a learning process and that it starts with a desire to stop. Relapses are part of this. Dealing with these is an important step in inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment.

Treating addiction

Addiction can take many different forms. The hardest step is recognising your own addictive behaviour and its consequences. Only then can you overcome alcohol addiction, or quit a shopping or mobile phone addiction. The same applies to seeking help for drug addiction: for instance, overcoming a cocaine addiction or addressing a cannabis addiction. A crisis can often serve as a wake-up call – e.g. a breakdown or losing one’s job. And then? Who can provide you with the support you need?

Overcoming addiction – a personal testimony

Michel Sutter became an addict at the age of 15. He spent time in a rehab clinic but suffered a relapse. Now an addiction coach, he explains in the video what finally helped him overcome his drug and alcohol addiction.

The first step: addiction counselling

The important thing is to get professional help and seek advice. The first port of call is an addiction counselling centre, your GP or a self-help group.

How does addiction counselling work? And what does it cost?

Addiction counselling is all about examining your personal situation. What stage of addiction are you at? Together with the specialist, those affected can find out what goals they want to achieve and what will help them do so. Is withdrawal treatment necessary? Is inpatient addiction treatment indicated? Addiction counselling is generally free, to ensure that it is accessible to all.

Helpful contacts: self-help groups and addiction support online

Self-help groups and other self-help options can be a huge support for people with addictive disorders – but also for their family members.

More about alcohol addiction

Overcoming addiction: addiction treatment

The person with the addiction must themselves believe in addiction treatment and be motivated to start it. Those affected spend a lot of time going back and forth between an intense desire for the addictive substance and the urge to stop. The aim is to motivate the person in their own interest.

If someone has a severe substance use disorder – consuming large amounts and suffering from withdrawal symptoms or the consequences of addiction – medically supervised treatment is urgently advised. Whether or not inpatient or outpatient treatment is suitable depends on the situation of the person affected. Inpatient treatment means that you go into a specialist clinic for addiction treatment. Outpatient addiction treatment involves attending an addiction counselling centre or addiction clinic on a regular basis.

The aim of addiction treatment is to help those affected to resume an autonomous and fulfilling life: with psychotherapy or medication, but also with accompanying measures such as exercise, relaxation and alternative medicine. For instance, some addiction clinics offer hypnotherapy. Hypnosis isn’t a cure for alcohol addiction or other addictive disorders, but it can help.

Can you quit substances without help?

Can you overcome alcohol addiction alone? Or cure yourself of a prescription drug addiction? This is not advisable. Going cold turkey without support, i.e. the abrupt complete cessation of the use of substances like alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines or other potentially addictive substances, is dangerous. Left untreated, withdrawal symptoms can sometimes be life-threatening.

After quitting a substance: withdrawal

Withdrawal refers to the process of physical detoxification. This is always just the first step in treating addiction. After that, it’s a question of dealing with normal everyday life and developing healthy strategies for coping with stress, crises and emotions. Psychotherapy, self-help groups and addiction counselling can help with this.

Relapses are painful and frustrating, but they are part of the process. They indicate where there is still work to do. An emergency plan for crises can help.

Overcoming addiction – five tips for avoiding relapse

  1. Develop new habits. Which situations, people or places put you at risk of falling back into old patterns? Restructure your day-to-day routine. Pursue interests and hobbies. Take part in sports. Seek out new friendships or maintain existing ones that nourish you.
  2. Reduce stress. Conflict, worries and other stresses can increase the risk of relapse. Reduce these sources of stress with the help of specialists and close friends.
  3. Learn how to deal with emotions. Unpleasant feelings such as fear, anger, loneliness, sadness or guilt can lead to relapse. Get support if you need it.
  4. Create an emergency plan to follow in the case of strong cravings. Continually remind yourself of why you have given up the addictive substance. Internalise the following: “I can manage without it. The craving will pass.”
  5. Remain aware. Even once you have overcome addiction, relapses are possible, but the risk will steadily decrease.

Read more

Nomophobia and mobile phone addiction: what you need to know
How to regain control over excessive mobile phone use. Information and tips about mobile phone addiction and nomophobia.
March 22, 2023 4 minutes

Causes of addiction and how to prevent it
Why do we become addicted to things? About the causes of addiction and tips for prevention.
March 22, 2023 2 minutes


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