The Cycle of Addiction

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Highly individual, The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a complex interchange of an individual’s life experience, environment across the lifespan, family genetics, and brain chemistry. Addiction is a multifaceted disorder, however, it typically follows a cycle or pattern. This cycle is not linear and can take a different shape from person to person.

Lifestyle choices, good and bad, become an ingrained regular way of life. For addiction, this habit creates a reward system for the brain, and in its absence, the brain and body react negatively with feelings such as shame, guilt, worthlessness, or physical symptoms of withdrawal. This feedback loop creates physiological and psychological sensations that can make a person continue to use in spite of the consequences.

How to Break the Cycle of Addiction

Addiction can happen to anyone. Whether gambling, smoking, shopping, or drugs and alcohol, the cycle of addiction can take over. Some characteristics of the addictive cycle include a craving, seeking the craved substance or activity, using, or actively engaged with the substance or activity, a sense of pleasure or fulfillment, and regret or withdrawal.

Identifying the behavior pattern can help start the process of overcoming the addiction. The following strategies can help get out of the spiral of addiction.

Create a plan

Identifying the problem is only the first step. A commitment to forming healthier habits is key to breaking the addiction cycle.

Think about healthier alternatives and make a plan to integrate those choices into a daily routine. Include short- and long-term goals in the plan. List out the immediate results, such as more energy or clearer thinking and consider hopes for the future, such as improved health and less strained relationships.

Goal making can be difficult for some, especially during the early phases of recovery. One way that may help is to jot down a list of all the reasons it’s important to stop using or, conversely, all the reasons why drugs and alcohol seem essential. While the second list may seem counterproductive, it can actually create a way to question its place in your life. For instance, one reason that may show up is decreased stress or a way to loosen up in social situations. Do drugs or alcohol remove stress or help form relationships in the long run? Or do they create more stressful situations or impair communication and lead to embarrassment in social settings?

When developing goals for recovery, make them realistic and achievable. For instance, today I choose to take care of my body and mind without the use of drugs or alcohol. Or, I know the group meeting schedule and I can attend at a time that fits within my schedule.

Find a recovery group or treatment program

People may find success when combating addiction on their own, but a group or treatment program may prove beneficial in several ways.

With addiction comes isolation. Interacting with others can help ease this feeling of being alone and can provide positive interaction with others in a similar situation. Groups such as AA or NA and private out-patient support groups can provide a safe space to explore patterns of behavior, stressors or triggers, and the motivation necessary for recovery.

People can work alongside trained counselors and confront feelings about addiction and how it affects the various areas of life, such as work or career advancement, health issues, or damaged relationships. In the case of a co-occurring mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety, licensed counselors can provide additional support and therapies that can help with a dual diagnosis.

Break the Cycle of Addiction with Pura Vida

Pura Vida outpatient recovery treatment program focuses on the individual provides medical detoxification and intensive outpatient treatment programs. The highly trained, licensed professionals treat a variety of substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions.

With evidence-based practice, Pura Vida helps to bring success and joy without the use of drugs or alcohol. The unique treatment model is made affordable and flexible payment plans and scholarships are available. Get in touch with the team and learn how Pura Vida can make a difference in your life and help you live the best life.