Home Uncategorized Understanding the Cycle of Addiction and the Steps To Recovery

Understanding the Cycle of Addiction and the Steps To Recovery

written by Bill Tara April 21, 2021

For example, a person who abuses a substance daily may actually rotate through that cycle a number of times during the day, while a person who binges may move through the cycle at a different pace. At Recovery at the Crossroads, the best New Jersey addiction treatment center, individuals find a welcoming environment where they discover how good it feels to live substance-free. We’re ready to help you or a loved one chart a path toward recovery. Aftercare support is essential for individuals who complete substance abuse treatment programs. Outpatient counseling, peer support groups and community organizations that connect individuals to community resources can help people stay on the path to recovery. A high-risk user may believe they can perform tasks like operating machinery at work or driving while intoxicated.

Is there a difference between addiction and being hooked?

Suddenly, you are hooked. Usually, this progression happens slowly over time. An addiction can continue for years before a person realizes they are powerless over their addiction and admit that their life has become unmanageable.

In their quest to avoid pain, addicts turn to their drug of choice for a solution that provides rapid relief, beginning the toxic cycle we call addiction. In addition to rapid relief, addicts may also look to escape their problems and avoid addressing the issues firsthand. Unfortunately, addictive solutions are easily accessible and obtain “results” quickly. For some individuals, alcohol is a go-to choice, while others turn to cannabis, cigarettes, or another substance for instant pleasure. Numerous underlying factors can influence a person’s likelihood to become addicted. That is why, at Fair Oaks Recovery Center in California, we practice a whole-person approach to treatment, and we enthusiastically welcome loved ones to participate in the rehabilitation process.

Dependence / Addiction

This can be due to their shame and fear of judgment that stems from their addiction. They’ll often lie about who they spend their free time with, why money is missing and why they’re behaving in a different way. The advances outlined above point the way to future directions how to break the addiction cycle for research in the neurocircuitry of addiction in the same conceptual framework of binge/intoxication, withdrawal/negative affect, and preoccupation/anticipation. Helping an addicted person break free from this vicious cycle is frustrating and distressing.

cycle of dependence

Importantly, positive and negative reinforcement need not be driven solely by the effects of the drugs. Many other environmental and social stimuli can reinforce a behavior. For example, the approval of peers positively reinforces substance use for some people. Likewise, if drinking or using drugs with others provides relief from social isolation, substance use behavior could be negatively reinforced. To understand how addictive substances affect the brain, it is important to first understand the basic biology of healthy brain function. Within the brain, a mix of chemical and electrical processes controls the body’s most basic functions, like breathing and digestion.

Ventral Striatum/Dorsal Striatum/Thalamus: Voluntary to Habitual Drug-Seeking

This cycle can be arrested at any point after the addict or alcoholic makes a decision or is forced to get help. Sometimes, the consequences that arise (legal, financial, medical or social) force the addict or alcoholic to stop using. However, in the absence of outside help, such as alcohol or drug detox followed by addiction treatment help, the substance abuse or addictive behavior is likely to return. The neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine send messages to the brain and the rest of the body. The altered brain chemistry essentially requires constant, repetitive exposure to the substance or action to function psychologically and physiologically. This chemical dependence leads to tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, two of the hallmarks of substance abuse addiction that most often require a professionally monitored alcohol and drug detox.

When an addict has a craving, they also often follow a specific ritual as part of the addiction. These rituals usually develop around how someone goes about procuring and using drugs or alcohol. For example, an alcoholic may always go to the same liquor store and stock up on a week’s worth of alcohol before going on a binge while a heroin addict may follow a specific procedure before shooting up.

The Addiction Cycle Explained

It can include providing someone with money for drugs or covering up for them when they get caught with substances. Being in a relationship with a drug addict can be difficult, frustrating, and confusing. Your substance-abusing partner can frequently break promises and ask you to borrow money for drugs. The more time your partner abuses drugs or alcohol, the more time they spend finding and using them instead of spending quality time with you.

Addiction alters the brain chemistry affecting the process of thought and decision-making. The definition of addiction also includes strong references to denial, minimization and justification, all of which are primitive internal defense mechanisms. After the addiction is acknowledged, the addict may ultimately be forced to decide to stop using chemicals, thus breaking the cycle of addiction. The cycle of addiction is powerful, usually requiring outside interventions that include alcohol detox or drug detox and substance abuse treatment.

In the case of a stressful marriage, attending couple’s counseling may be an effective way to address problems that would otherwise lead back to addiction. If you are looking for a rehab facility that will provide guidance and professional treatment please contact us today. The staff at Miracles Recovery Center, located in Port St. Lucie, Florida, is ready to take your call and work with you or your loved one to break the cycle of addiction and begin the path to recovery. It is never too late to begin the process of having and maintaining a sober life. The consequences of drug or alcohol addiction are very serious short-term and long-term. Long-term use of drugs or alcohol can lead to various physical and mental complications.

  • Human post-mortem studies, human laboratory studies, and neurocircuitry studies in parallel animal models will likely yield promising results in this domain.
  • Over time, these changes result in compromised brain function and a shift from the controlled, occasional use of drugs or alcohol to chronic substance misuse.
  • Using their drug of choice governs every aspect of an addict’s life.
  • However, now you’re using it to feel good instead of healing your body.
  • Addiction includes the development of tolerance combined with withdrawal symptoms.

When someone abuses drugs or alcohol, they’re using it for “high” it produces rather than for its medical qualities or social aspects. Finally, molecular and genetic changes that convey the changes in activity of the neurocircuits in all three stages of the addiction cycle described above are only now being elucidated. Changes in transmitter regulatory systems, transcription factors, and even gene regulation at the epigenetic level may explain how circuits are dysregulated, stay dysregulated, and provide vulnerability to dysregulation initially or long into abstinence. This glutamate dysregulation has been hypothesized to be caused by decreased function of the cystine–glutamate exchanger (Baker et al, 2003) and desensitization of the metabotropic glutamate mGlu2/3 receptor.

Related Articles

Log In

Lost Password


The first step to becoming a member of the RD&T Community and the beginning of your personal Journey to Ultimate Success:

Join Now

Click the button below to register for a free membership and have access to unlimited articles.