The Cycle of Addiction: Stages of Dependence | Understanding the Addiction Cycle: The First Step Toward Rehabilitation

One of the largest misconceptions about addiction is that it is an active and constant choice. Many people see those with addiction as suffering from some kind of moral failing. In reality, it is a chronic disease with measurable consistencies from case to case and well-documented research on the rehabilitation and counseling required to manage it. The cycle of drug addiction prevents many addicts from getting sober without professional care, so if you or a loved one are caught in one of its stages, you may need to get help.

What Is the Cycle of Addiction?

It doesn’t take long for the effects of drug use to take a decidedly negative turn. The high may not be as strong as it once was, and it may become more difficult to fulfill simple obligations. Without the drug, the individual may feel listless, anxious, or even sick. Because of these drawbacks, addicts continue to use. The cycle of addiction can explain the reasons why.

Stages of the Addiction Cycle

Addiction affects people from all walks of life, but there are commonalities that create a picture of the stages of the disorder. Drugs and alcohol change the chemical makeup of the brain, which can trap the addict in a recurring cycle of dependency. This cycle begins when an individual first starts to use and may not be broken until they enter a rehab for help.

  • Pain and Frustration: The first stage in the cycle of addiction begins with feelings of discontent, pain, or anxiety. These may sometimes be caused by a traumatic event but can also arise from the pressures of everyday life. If an individual is unable to cope with these feelings, they will begin searching for a means to relieve them.
  • Consideration of Drugs or Alcohol: It is at this point that the individual entertains the idea of using drugs or alcohol to feel better. They may find themselves unable to think of anything else and may justify the decision to use with the idea that their lives will improve after consuming these substances.
  • Using: This stage of the addiction cycle is the one in which an individual actually uses the substance in question. While they may indeed gain a temporary reprieve from their negative feelings, they may also act in dangerous or foolish ways while under the influence, which can compound later feelings of guilt or regret.
  • Loss of Control: At this point, the individual loses the ability to control how much of the substance they use. They may take more than they intended to, or they may attempt to stop using, only to find that they must suffer through withdrawal in order to do so.
  • Regret: Contrary to how it may seem to outside observers, many addicts are aware of the negative consequences of their behavior. They may feel ashamed of their actions or guilty about their choices and end up feeling worse than they did before they began using.
  • Promises: In this final stage of the cycle of addiction, the addict resolves to quit using drugs or alcohol or to cut back on their use. Unfortunately, due to the chemical effects of these substances, these promises are often short-lived, and the individual returns to the beginning of the cycle of addiction.

Break the Cycle of Drug Addiction With Rehabilitation

Due to addiction’s stronghold on emotional well-being and decision-making abilities, it is often extremely difficult for an addict to recover without professional assistance. Fortunately, there are many different treatment options available, each catering to a specific need. Rehab typically consists of detox followed by addiction counseling and skill training. Dual-diagnosis treatment, a specialty at Tampa Drug Treatment Center, addresses both the addiction and any concurrent disorders, such as depression or PTSD.

We strongly believe that each patient deserves customized care for their addiction. A free clinical assessment can provide more insight about the addiction treatment program that would be the best solution for you or a loved one, and our 24/7 phone line is always open. Call today or fill out our form here to start healing and begin your recovery.