The Cycle of Addiction: Stages of On-Going Disease

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Cycle of AddictionIf you have been researching drug rehab treatment options, you likely know someone dealing with a serious addiction. However, understanding the cycle of addiction can provide useful insight in dealing with this difficult problem. The material below will discuss this cycle in more detail. Moreover, it will also discuss ways to get professional help to break the dangerous addiction cycle.

The Effects of Addiction

Addiction affects millions of people literally on a daily basis. In fact, according to a 2016 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an estimated 21 million Americans 12 years and older required treatment for substance abuse that year. That is almost 8% of the total population of the United States!

Addiction doesn’t just happen overnight, though. Addiction can slowly fester and build over a prolonged period of time depending on how your body reacts to the substance of abuse. We will look at the different stages of addiction to help you better understand how addiction affects all parts of your body.

What is Addiction?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences”. While drugs and alcohol are the most commonly abused substances, addiction isn’t limited to just those substances. Anything that your body needs to feel right at an unhealthy or even potentially harmful rate could be considered an addiction.

Many addictive substances provide a temporary feeling of pleasure in the person using them. Over time, this can result in the chronic misuse of these substances. Specifically, addiction is a condition in which a person has come to rely on the use of an addictive substance. Individuals with addiction will continue to abuse addictive substances despite the chaos it creates in their lives.

Understanding the Cycle of Addiction

Understanding the cycle of addiction is an important part of getting help for this problem. As a person continues using an addictive substance, their body gets used to the effects the substance creates. Therefore, they need more of the drug in order to feel the same effects. This sets up a dangerous pattern that can lead to an addiction.

Once an addiction forms, a person often remains trapped in a vicious cycle. If they try to stop using the substance, for example, they may face bothersome physical withdrawal symptoms. They will also likely experience severe cravings for the substance.

Additionally, the desire to experience the pleasurable sensations that substance abuse creates is very strong. All of these factors combine to create an addiction cycle that is hard to break without professional help.

What Are Some Signs of Addiction?

Knowing and being able to identify signs of addiction is important, especially if you or someone you know is currently suffering from addiction. Knowing some of the warning signs is a great way to help fight addiction at an early stage before the addiction can potentially turn deadly. As addiction takes hold, individuals exhibit certain behaviors. Those behaviors include, but are not limited to:

  • A loss of control
  • Abandoning hobbies and activities
  • Poor performance at school or work
  • Unexplained financial problems

If you find yourself exhibiting any of these behaviors, it is time to seek treatment from our treatment center.

What Are the Different Stages in the Cycle of Addiction?

Addiction doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, sometimes it can take months or even years before the use of drugs or alcohol can turn into an addiction. During that time period, there were will be several different stages that the body will go through as it starts to depend on that substance.

There are five main stages of addiction:

  • Experimentation (Trying It for the First Time)
  • Regular Use
  • Risky Use
  • Dependence
  • Addiction

Stage One: Experimentation

In order to develop an addiction to a substance, you first have to try that substance out. Many times, this might take place around friends or in a social situation. You might be around a group of people who are using a drug or other substance that you might not have tried before and you think to yourself, “I’ll give it a try and see what happens.”

This is particularly common for teenagers or young adults when it comes to alcohol. In many cases, the substance might not even be illegal. Legally-obtained substances, such as alcohol and prescription medications are some of the most commonly used and abused substances that lead to addiction. Just because you can acquire something legally, doesn’t mean that you can’t become addicted to it.

Stage Two: Regular or Prolonged Use

Chances are after that initial use, you will continue to use the substance again more regularly. In some cases, you might even continue use on doctors’ orders if it’s a prescribed medication. As long as you enjoyed the way the substance made you feel, your brain will want you to continue to use that substance. It’s the reason that we might have a drink after a long day at work, or take Aspirin if we have a headache.

The brain tells the body that a particular substance is necessary for feeling better. At this point, there might not even be any signs that an addiction is forming. For many people, they can enjoy their substance during their free time and still be able to go about their daily lives normally. During this phase, you may be able to stop consuming the substance even for periods of time without feeling any adverse effects.

Stage Three: Risky Use

As you continue to use the substance more and more, and your body becomes more and more accustomed to it, you might find yourself exhibiting potentially reckless or dangerous behavior as a result of the substance. The substance may begin to cloud your judgment and may impact your ability to go about your daily life including work or school. You may find yourself neglecting your responsibilities or even your relationships in favor of the substance. Examples of risky use include:

Binge Drinking: Binge drinking is the heavy use of alcohol periodically. This can result in harm to the physical health of self and others. It can also cause negative behavioral consequences, which may result in bodily harm to self or others.

Substance Abuse: Substance abuse is the use of a psychoactive drug to such an extent that its effects seriously interfere with health or occupational and social functioning. Substance abuse may or may not involve physiologic dependence or tolerance. For example, the use of substances in weekend binge patterns may not involve physiologic dependence. But it may have adverse effects on a person’s and possibly others’ lives.

Stage Four: Dependence

As you continue to use the substance more and more, your body becomes dependent on it. Your body has recognized that it feels good when it has that substance in its system and craves more of it. In addition, as your body gets used to the said substance, it starts to build a tolerance to it. That means that in order to continue to feel the sensation you are looking for, you will be required to take more and more of said substance.

It is also during this stage when not taking the substance can result in adverse effects on your body. This can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Severe mood swings
  • Fever
  • Cold Sweat
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Lightheadedness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle spasms

In some severe cases, not taking a substance when your body has grown dependent on it can even result in a heart attack, a stroke, or even death.

It is at this stage where, if it hasn’t already been done, intervening from family and friends is needed. This is the stage where it is very clear that there is a problem and that the person who is suffering needs to get help.

Stage Five: Addiction

It is at this stage where the body simply cannot function without the substance being constantly in its system. If you or someone you know can say yes to any of the following, then the body has developed an addiction:

  • You can’t function without drugs or alcohol.
  • You can’t control the usage.
  • Despite the harm that comes to your health and life, you continue to use drugs/alcohol.
  • You lie about your use, especially about how much you are using.
  • You avoid friends and family.
  • Activities you used to enjoy no longer interest you.
  • You can’t recognize the problems with your behavior or with your relationships with others.

Addiction can wreak havoc on not just the body, but those around the person who is suffering from the addiction. That’s why it is at this stage that individuals should begin seeking professional help for addiction. If addiction isn’t addressed and treated it can result in overdosing and possibly even death. Even if it doesn’t result in death, addiction can lead to permanent health problems.

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction: Treating Substance Use Disorder

Fortunately, you are not alone if you or someone you know is suffering from addiction. There are ways to treat the disease and get your life back on track.

The first step in the treatment process is detox. Detox typically takes place over a period of 7-10 days. During this process, the body rids itself of all the harmful substances and chemicals that it grew dependent on. It is crucial that the detox process is done at either detox or medical facility so the patient can be properly monitored during the entire process. Detoxing can be very dangerous and without proper medical care can even be deadly.

After detox, the next step is to undergo addiction treatment. This can either be done at an inpatient or outpatient rehab center. Inpatient centers require you to live there for the duration of your treatment while outpatient centers allow you to go about living your daily life at home and coming in for treatment and therapy. During the rehab process, you will attend meetings and therapy sessions to learn how to avoid letting addiction take over your life again.

After rehab, the process isn’t over though. Addiction is a disease that can reappear at a moment’s notice. Meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous are places where you can meet with fellow addicts and talk about your problems in a safe and comfortable setting. You can also learn ways in which others went about “beating” their addiction.

More About Treatment Options for the Cycle of Addiction

Breaking an addiction cycle usually requires professional treatment. For example, your individual treatment plan might include the following options:


Various forms of individual counseling still form a strong basis for the treatment of drug abuse. Personal, family, and group counseling all have their unique benefits.

Prescription Medication

Some treatment centers use prescription medication to make the treatment process easier. In addition, your specific needs will be analyzed to determine if this might be a good choice for you.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Self-destructive behaviors almost always start with negative thoughts. Recognizing negative thoughts and learning to change them is part of what makes cognitive behavioral therapy effective.

Relapse Prevention Plan

A relapse prevention plan is essential to keep people from falling into the same patterns of behavior. Therefore, a rehab center can work with you to create an effective plan for combating the risk of relapse.

Finding suitable addiction treatment does not need to be overwhelming. In fact, Crest View Recovery Center is a professional rehab center in Asheville, North Carolina. CVRC uses an innovative form of reality therapy to provide relief from the effects of addiction. In a serene mountain setting, our compassionate team provides holistic forms of therapy and aftercare options.

Don’t let addiction continue to control your life. You can break free from the grip of addiction by getting help from a rehab center. Call (866) 327-2505 to learn more about the treatment options available at Crest View Recovery Center.

Start the journey toward recovery now.

Stop trying to fight this battle alone. Let today be the day you take control back from addiction. Contact Crest View today.

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