I don't think I'm qualified to suggest how to kick major vices like heroin and alcohol, but I have plenty of experience with minor vices like procrastination and time-wasting activities, both with myself and people I coach.
The fundamental first step that many people skip is determining why they want to eliminate a vice. That it's not a "good" thing to do is never enough. If you don't have a strong reason for quitting, you'll never actually quit.
Sometimes good reasons may exist for quitting something, but they might not be obvious to you. So dig up and find both good reasons to quit and good reasons to continue. If you don't examine both sides, you won't trust your analysis.
If you can't find sufficient compelling reasons to quit the vice, don't bother trying. It's better to table the idea than it is to try when failure is inevitable.
The next step is to consider what is going to take the place of the existing vice. Creating vacuums in ones life is never really a good strategy. Ideally the thing that replaces the vice should be as enjoyable as possible. If you're trying to quit video games, replace them with crosswords or reading really enjoyable books. If you're trying to quit browsing youtube, replace it with watching documentaries or listening to podcasts.
Don't worry if the replacement isn't the ideal activity. You can always replace it with something better later. Vices are hard to kick, so you may as well make the process as easy as possible. Plus, the new replacement activity won't be as entrenched, so it will be much easier to change.
Give yourself some amount of time, maybe 2-3 months to run a trial of what life is like without the vice. If I tell you to not visit reddit ever again, that's a big ask, even if you replace it with something else. If I tell you not to do it for a couple months, that's a lot easier to swallow. After a couple months you can hopefully evaluate with a clear mind whether it was worth kicking or not. Usually it is.
It's important to never let your vice become part of your identity. You're not a slacker, you're not a gamer, you're not a procrastinator. Those are things you may have done, but they are not part of your definition.
Last, you can eventually consider allowing some of your vice back into your life after a year or two. Playing video games isn't inherently bad, but playing them when you should be working probably is. Once the habit/addiction is broken, you can probably reintroduce the old activity back in to a limited extent. It helps knowing this when you start kicking the addiction, because it provides a light at the end of the tunnel.
Photo is the mountains over Almaty Kazakhstan! It's easy to get up to them via gondolas.
Great post, these are strategies I use too. Fundamentally the idea of tradeoffs I think bleeds into lots of things. For example, when starting a new habit, I think a lot of people assume they have tons of "free time" they're "wasting", and then the habit fails because actually that "wasted" time was downtime they counted on, or something. David Wong at Cracked wrote a surprisingly good article about this; this point is #4:
I've seen the vacuum analysis used with smoking. For people who take smoke breaks at work, the break lets them relax, socialize, take a pause to reflect, and the nicotine provides a gentle feeling of euphoria. If you're not honest that the "vice" is also providing some benefits, it's harder to quit the vice without finding a replacement to provide those benefits.
All of that makes sense. Coffee is my main vice. When I've tried to quit in the past, I worked in an office where there was always coffee brewing and people drinking coffee. I blamed my failures on that. I never fully considered the positive effects of it though. Many of them are the same as you mentioned for smoking.
Maybe start with just going to decaf (or even half caf/half decaf) using Tynan's "non-ideal" replacement suggestion? I was previously addicted to coffee, so I went with warm water and caffeine pills (Nodoz), to ease myself off. I was successfully off for 2 years. Then I decided to start again because I just decided that I enjoyed it a lot, and the downsides didn't seem that bad (the research results seem mixed) and I wasn't seeing any short term ill effects. But it's good to know I could quit again if I wanted to. Good luck!!
Everything you eat is primarily made up of three macronutrients, or building blocks: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Today I'm going to focus on what I've learned about carbohydrates, because they make up the bulk of most people's diets and they offer the biggest opportunity for diet improvement.
I eat pretty well and take pretty good care of myself. But it's taken quite a while to get here - before 2006, I had a pretty standard American diet. Lots of pizza, junk food, fast food, liquor, soda, sweets, etc. I smoked cigarettes, cigars, sheesha, and other kinds of tobacco.
Since then I've refined my diet and I eat pretty well. I have more energy, feel better, look better, and God willing, I'll live a lot longer as a result. It's a gradual process though, and I'm still improving. There's a few things I use to do it:
First, I'm all about incremental improvement - I think trying to crash change your diet is unlikely to work unless you have immense amounts of willpower and self-discipline. If you do have these Herculean amounts of will and discipline, you know who you are and don't need my advice. If you're more mortal, then you'll want to pick one or two things to be refining in your diet at a time.
Second, there's two ways I quit food or habits I don't like - "hard quitting" (cold turkey) and "soft quitting" (gradually reduce my consumption and eventually eliminate it). I pick which of these routes to go based on how convenient it is to quit something outright and if there's any detox process. If there's detox (like there was with nicotine), I think it's better to just get it over with once instead of constantly feeling deprived as your body re-adjusts to its new biochemical levels. The most successful method for quitting smoking is cold turkey, isn't it? Something like 80% of successful attempts to quit smoking are cold turkey? I don't have the statistics onhand, but that's the general idea. Quitting something like sugar, bad oils, or excess salt might be easier to do incrementally, since you need to replace the consumption with something else.
Which brings us to third point - I actively introduce new good behaviors before and during the time I quit something. Now, I don't know if the following is a good strategy, but it's what I did - when I started cutting down the sweets I ate, I increased my consumption of the kinds of salty foods I already ate: Chips, french fries, nuts, etc. Later I cut the salt content back. I don't know if that's a good habit, but it's worked okay for me. I also try to actively introduce fruits and vegetables before I quit something - it's hard to go from no fiber food that's highly processed to stimulate you immediately to fruits and vegetables. Fruit tastes bland compared to ice cream. So I introduce fruits and vegetables first, get comfortable with them, then increase my consumption of them as I decrease or eliminate bad consumption.