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What Are The Cycles of Addiction?

When we break down our addictions and look at them more closely, we see that there are in fact different phases of our illnesses that are characterized by how we operate with our drugs of choice, including both the substances and the behaviors that we become dependent upon and addicted to. We might associate addiction with full-blown dependence, and with the relapse, many of us experience once we get sober, but there are several other phases as well. Educating ourselves on the cycles of addiction can help us to break them, and to create new patterns for ourselves based on a better understanding of ourselves and a deeper connection with ourselves. What are the cycles of addiction?

Our addictions start with the first time we engage in the destructive behavior in question or use an addictive substance, either of which can become our drug of choice or which can lead to experimenting with others that then become our drugs of choice. This phase of our addictions is called the “initial use,” when we first start drinking and/or using. We might use initially because there is a history of addiction in our families and we’re predisposed to it. We might drink and/or use because we’re coping with being neglected, abused, abandoned or otherwise hurt in some way. We might use to escape our own feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy.

Whatever the reason, our initial use can then lead to abuse, where we begin to use our drug of choice compulsively and excessively. We’re not just using it, we’re abusing it and abusing ourselves in the process. During this stage, we might develop a higher tolerance for the addictive substance or behavior. This can cause us to drink or use our drug of choice in greater amounts to try and get back to the powerful high we first got initially or to use different drugs or behaviors until we find the high we’re looking for. This can quickly lead to dependence, and we can find ourselves feeling so attached to our drug or behavior of choice, along with the feelings of pleasure and relief it brings us, that we feel we can’t function or even live without it. Our dependence becomes addiction when we can’t stop ourselves from engaging in our destructive behaviors even when we’re fully consciously aware of how much danger we’re putting ourselves in, how much we’re harming ourselves, and how much we could potentially be killing ourselves.

Once we’ve developed an addiction, we might experience phases of remission where we’re successfully able to achieve abstinence. We might feel we’re no longer contending with addiction. We may even feel that we no longer have to self-identify as addicts. We can feel free and healed. Unfortunately for many of us, we fall back into old patterns and relapse, returning to our drug of choice, sometimes in even more extreme, destructive ways than before.

The more we understand the cycles of addiction, the more we can empower ourselves to break free of them. Our recovery depends on our being as informed about, and prepared for, the various stages of our illness as we possibly can be.

At The Guest House Ocala, we have personal recovery experience and over 12 years in the recovery industry. We have helped countless people recover, and we’re here to help you too. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.