How Do You Break the Addiction Cycle?

Addiction is a vicious cycle. Those who use drugs or alcohol continue harming themselves until this cycle is broken. Overcoming addiction is far from easy, but it’s possible with professional help. Understanding the addiction cycle will help you or a loved one permanently break free.

Defining the Addiction Cycle

First, it’s important to define and understand the cycle itself. The four stages of the addiction cycle involve the stress stimulus, the substance abuse response, and the consequences.

Stress is a natural, common part of everyday life. It can be physical, or self-induced. Stress might appear because you aren’t sleeping well, or because of a troubling relationship. Mental health problems or a trauma history may also contribute to stress.

While it’s normal to experience stress, some individuals find it overwhelming. Rather than addressing the source in a healthy way, they choose to numb it. Often, this is through substance abuse and addiction.

Initially, the euphoria of drugs and alcohol erases feelings of stress. There might be relief, but it’s only temporary. As relief fades, consequences emerge.

The consequences of substance abuse vary, but they always appear. They may begin with a hangover or withdrawal symptoms. They could also include spending too much money the night before, criminal activity, or saying hurtful things to loved ones.

These consequences cause stress which triggers use, starting the addiction cycle all over again.

Learning to Manage Stress

There are several ways to break free from the addiction cycle. However, the most effective method is learning how to healthily manage stress. By relieving stress, individuals won’t feel the need to numb.

Learning to manage stress may seem easy, but it’s difficult to achieve. In addiction treatment, patients learn how to create a custom stress management plan. Often, this begins by learning to identify it. Simply acknowledging the source of stress makes it easier to deal with.

By discovering a stress management plan that works, individuals develop coping mechanisms for relief. A lot of people find that exercise lets off some steam in a healthy way. For others, spending time outdoors in a serene spot naturally lowers heart rate and blood pressure.

Stress relief comes in countless different forms. It might be dancing, chatting with friends, or attending a local 12-step therapy group. Whatever it is, each individual must identify this and implement healthy stress release.

Creating a Support Network

Even the best stress relief plan sometimes won’t work. In certain situations, like a medical emergency, the death of a loved one, or a divorce, stress is simply unavoidable. No amount of yoga or group meetings can eliminate these sources of stress. Fortunately, creating a support network helps you navigate stress without turning to substance abuse.

Your support group may be anyone who helps you stay sober. It might include your therapist, family members, close friends, peers from your rehab program, or members of a local addiction support group. In our digital world, it could even be friends online.

When stressful situations arise, make contact with your support network. These people help you stay on track to sobriety. Going through recovery on your own is ill-advised. Take advantage of the support you have, and use it to overcome temptations and manage stress.

Picturing the Consequences

Another way to break the addiction cycle is by thinking one step ahead. When you experience stress and want to find relief, substance abuse is the easy solution. However, thinking about the consequences 12 or 24 hours from now will help you understand the severity of drug use.

If you are in addiction recovery, the consequences of relapse may mean withdrawing again. Withdrawal is extremely unpleasant and takes several days, so the thought of repeating it may keep you from using. Think about whether consequences are truly worth the brief minutes of the drug’s high.

When you use, there are endless consequences. If you’re a parent, you might focus on how your children would cope without you. If you have a job, think about whether you could get fired as a result of drug or alcohol abuse. If you’re sober and thinking logically, it’s easier to see consequences clearly and rationally.

Finding Stability in Addiction Treatment

Addiction can feel like a roller coaster ride. There are plenty of ups and downs. The addiction cycle can feel the same way, with many people caught up in it. One of the best ways to break free completely is by finding as much stability as possible.

If you’re struggling with addiction, having a routine is nearly impossible. Substance abuse can change your entire day at any moment. In recovery, however, creating a set schedule helps. Routine and stability makes it easier to plan ahead and avoid the cycles of addiction.

To overcome addiction, you need to break the addiction cycle. These techniques may help you or your loved one find stability, peace, and life-long sobriety.