Nine Easy and Effective Addiction Problem-Solving Steps That You Can Do ANYWHERE

Zach Rhoads By: Zach Rhoads
Reviewed By: Dr Stanton Peele

Posted on October 2nd, 2020 - Last updated: September 18th, 2023
This content was written in accordance with our Editorial Guidelines.

Stressful situations or problems can be major addiction-triggers (even when stress is unrelated to addictions past or present). Thus, developing effective problem-solving skills– better ways of coping with such situations– is essential to breaking an addictive cycle.

Here are a few steps to consider (think about whether you have some sort of similar thought-process when solving problems):

  1. Calmly assess the problem – When you are stressed, you often react instinctively. But first reactions are not always the best. You’ll find that, instead, if you can make space for yourself to accurately identify the nature of the problem, it will become more manageable. Sometimes it can even disappear on closer inspection.
  2. Gather information – You can often make poor choices or be overwhelmed by problems because you don’t understand their nature or full dimensions. Ask questions of others involved in the situation, of people you respect, and of people who have handled similar situations (“experts”). Chew over this information until you understand it fully.
  3.  Review options – There will be alternative ways to handle the problem, some of which you may not think of initially, but will learn about from seeking inputs. Consider each option carefully, including difficulties in carrying it out, help and resources you will need for each, and potential positive and negative consequences of the approach. Only after weighing all factors should you select the method you will use.
  4. Try it out – Problem-solving is an empirical science. That is, no method works well for everyone all of the time. You have to go forward decisively but at the same time cautiously, being wide awake to the results you are getting.
  5. Evaluate feedback – Now mull over the success of your approach as you proceed. Getting locked into a poor approach without being willing to reassess is as bad as panicking in the first place!
  6. Recalibrate. – As results come in, decide whether you should change part or all of your approach. Remember, your success depends on the approach you end up with, not the one you started with!
  7. You will still make bad decisions. – Because addiction is about predictable, immediate experiences, sometimes people recovering from addiction find it hard to tolerate uncertainty or imperfection. Problem solving is the best way of producing good results. It is not perfect. You will still experience failures. They  are part of the process– although failure is unpleasant, it tells you that you are growing and learning.
  8. Congratulate yourself on a job well done. Your efforts may not have been perfect– they never are. But you have dealt successfully with a difficult situation while others — including you in the past — would have lost their heads and made a bad situation worse.
  9. Now consider a current problem you are having. Write out the problem and begin applying the steps above. Once you have assessed your problem, gather information. Don’t do this in the same session that  you identify the problem– that is, take some time to consider, mull over, and seek input.

By gently interrogating your own thought-process, when under stress, you are invariably improving. Remember that  the key to beating addiction is to live a balanced life, not a perfect one.

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