Not every person that uses addictive substances will develop an addiction. But, people who have an addictive personality and use addictive substances have a high risk of developing a cycle of addiction. The addiction cycle is marked by changes in brain chemistry as the result of addictive drug use. Recognizing the addiction cycle can help people struggling with addiction come to terms with the fact that they are facing addictive behaviors and challenges. And, finally, get the help they need to retrain their brain, behaviors, and lifestyle and sustain lasting healing in recovery.
Identifying What Addiction Is
Addiction is a disease. It’s not something that a person chooses to have. We know this because addicted individuals have changes in their brains that present both biological and functional differences from that of a normal brain. This constitutes a neurological disorder, or disease, that allows mental health practitioners to have a defined perspective on treatment that focuses on the brain. Without understanding that addiction is a disease, treatment approaches are not effective.
Before the cycle of addiction commences, individuals may begin using addictive substances to subdue unwanted emotions or effects of mental health issues. As a result of the temporary relief addictive substances may bring, a cycle of addiction can begin. But, those who fall into a cycle of addictive behaviors do have hope for recovery through treatment services and mental health resources.
Drug Abuse and the Brain
As previously mentioned, addiction is a neurological condition that is identified by changes in the brain. Essentially, using addictive substances has an effect on the brain that disputes neurotransmitters, which are chemical substances that are sent throughout the brain that are responsible for sending messages to other parts of the brain. These disturbances to neurotransmitters lead to symptoms of addiction like cravings and withdrawal. Thus, requiring the constant use of the addicted substance to refrain from cravings and withdrawal.
Defining the Addiction Cycle
Being able to identify the addiction cycle can help people who are living with addiction to recognize whether or not they need help. Some of the characteristics of the addiction cycle include:
- a desire to find relief from mental health symptoms or negative feelings
- constantly thinking about using drugs to ease these symptoms and feelings
- consuming oneself by obsessing about using addictive substances and the relief they may experience with drug use
- acting on the actual use of addictive substances
- being unable to not control addictive behaviors
- eventually being uncomfortable with how using addictive substances makes one feel (feelings of shame, guilt, despair, etc.)
- setting goals to abstain from using addictive substances
The cycle of addiction is an actual “cycle”. So, after one makes a commitment to stopping the use of drugs or alcohol, stage 1 recommences with unwanted feelings and mental health symptoms, ultimately leading to the use of addictive substances once again.
Getting Help for the Cycle of Addiction
If you notice the cycle of addiction in your own life, you may be living with addiction. Mental health specialists, like the team at Willow Place for Women, help people living with addiction by providing resources, therapy, and education about addiction in order to help people overcome the cycle of addiction. Find out how we help women living with addiction by providing outpatient addiction support at our Asheville, North Carolina location.