Ramadan provides the opportunity to self-reflect on things which serve as distractions from the worship of Allah (SWT). It is a time where one can detox from addictive substances. It may be a shock to your system when you quit cold turkey, but your ability to do so in Ramadan highlights your ability to continue outside of Ramadan.

What are some ways to overcome addictions while fasting?

An addiction can be defined as, being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming” by Webster’s Dictionary. There are several different things, activities or substances one can be addicted to Alcohol and drugs are the most common addictive substances. However, coffee, tea, sugar, sodas, and even food itself can become the addiction. Regarding activities, watching TV and using social media can also become addicting.

This article will go over a few tips which may help a person overcome their addictions while fasting. We will use the running example of abstaining from smoking while fasting during Ramadan.

Think SMART

SMART is an acronym for goal setting. The idea is to set a SMART goal. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Specific: Your goal should be specific, not general. Ask yourself what you want to achieve. Here is a list of questions you can ask yourself when setting your goals as well as a running example of what an answer may look like:

What exactly do I want to achieve?

  • I want to quit smoking
  • How?
    • Since I am fasting and unable to eat or drink, I will replace my smoking behavior with a healthier alternative (such as worship, exercise, reading, etc. This healthier alternative should also be specific. For this example, we will use reading Quran as the alternate action).
  • When?
    • For the entire month of Ramadan
  • With whom?
    • Social supports are a great indicator of sticking to your goals. If you have friends who smoke and want to quit, you can encourage each other
  • What are the conditions and limitations?
    • Know what your triggers are and how to manage your cravings. For instance, I tend to smoke when I am stressed. To quit successfully I know I have to control stress. I will take a walk every day after work rather than smoking.
  • Why exactly do I want to reach this goal?
    • What is your internal motivation? Ramadan provides an external motivation, but individuals are more successful at breaking and keeping a habit who are intrinsically motivated. In the running example, intrinsic motivation to quit smoking could be to become a better Muslim/healthy for your family, etc.

Measurable

The means to break your goal into quantifiable elements wherein you can identify exactly how you expect to feel as you are taking steps to achieve your goal. It could include making a calendar and using stickers to mark the days you have gone without smoking.

Attainable

The investigating whether your goal is acceptable to you. You weigh the pros and cons, the effort, and time it will take to complete your objective and evaluate whether it is something you genuinely want to accomplish. It doesn’t mean that you cannot take the impossible and make it happen. It merely means you will need to make it happen through careful planning.

Relevant

Is reaching your goal important to you? In what way? Where do you see yourself in the future if you continue your habit versus if you discontinue the practice? Knowing this about yourself will provide you with some motivation to reach your goal.

Timely

It involves having a specific time frame in which to complete your goal, (which is easy to do in the month of Ramadan). It takes a month to make or break a habit so use this time wisely to overcome your addictions while fasting.

Final words

Remember that relapse is part of recovery. If you do find yourself relapsing, it is not the end of your journey. Take the regression as an opportunity to fine-tune your goal and get back on the wagon. Do not lose hope and stay motivated.

May Allah (SWT) make overcoming our addictions while fasting easy for all of us. Ameen.

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