Addiction to alcohol or other substances can affect anyone.

Unfortunately, some of us are more vulnerable to the cycle of addition than others. However, anyone has the capacity to fall into addictive behavior. Recognizing the cycle of addiction is an important first step in healing from the deceptive patterns created by substance abuse and dependence.

Steps in the Cycle

  1. Pain – Everyone experiences some type of internal frustration. Addictive substances first enter into this area of vulnerability. The pain we experience can be emotional from current or past traumatic situations. Of course, physical pain from injuries or other health problems also can drive us toward the need for relief.
  2. Avoidance – Addictive substances deceptively provide temporary relief and a false promise that the challenge of pain can be avoided. We become increasingly tempted to enter avoidance as our emotional and/or physical pain increases or persists over time. Confusion regarding how to deal with this internal tension compounds the desire for escape.
  3. Obsession – The promise of quick, reliable relief from pain draws our attention increasingly toward the substance. We start to gravitate toward persons, places, and things associated with the addiction as they fall in line with our growing focus on the substance.
  4. Abuse – Obsession leads to a building desire and craving to use substances. Self-Control weakens and impulsive behavior builds. This results is overuse or abuse.
  5. Loss of Control – The abuse of substances overloads our physical and emotional system which leads to an inability to limit desires and impulses. Excessive anger, embarrassing behavior, social isolation, mood swings, insomnia, poor choices with family, friends and co-workers become an increasing problem.
  6. Increasing Guilt – increases as consequences and problems build from behavior associated with the loss of control. Problems in family, work, and the community contribute to the overall sense of guilt.
  7. Attempts to Stop Using – are common as the pain from increasing guilt, and fear of continued consequences mount.
  8. Stagnation – In the absence of healing the core factors related to our emotional and physical pain, the urge to use substances and find relief festers over time. In this condition, we are stuck. Attempts to exercise will power ultimately fail as we are overcome by a growing sense of pain and isolation.

Being caught in the cycle of addiction is often deceptive and confusing. Often when the addiction becomes obvious, the problem has already been growing out of site for a long time. Want to detect addiction early? Here are five reliable signs that you are someone you know is entering into an addiction cycle:

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5 Signs That I Am Stuck in the Cycle of Addiction

  1. Using to Avoid Pain

  2. Using in Larger Amounts Over Time

  3. Craving for Substances

  4. Withdrawal from Substances

  5. Using Despite Negative Consequences

  • Using to Avoid Pain – Using alcohol in moderation socially is focused on our enjoyment of community. Using medication as prescribed is time limited to help initial physical healing. Using a substance away from these two purposes points toward addiction.
  • Using in Larger Amounts Over Time – Increasing use indicates the presence of tolerance to the addictive substance. As we use the substance to avoid pain, our natural ability to manage pain decreases. This drives the need for an increase in the amount of use, which indicates a growing addiction.
  • Craving for Substances – A growing desire to engage the substance points to an increasing focus or obsession on the addictive substance.
  • Withdrawal from Substances – These symptoms indicate the presence of physical addition. This can include headache, anxiety, depression and fatigue in its mild forms. As the physical addition grows sweating, vomiting, seizures and hallucination can occur.
  • Using Despite Negative Consequences – Persistent use despite the negative impact on daily living is maybe the best sign that a person is caught in the cycle of addiction. If the substance does not have an addictive hold, we could simply stop using it when it gets destructive. Using becomes a powerful habit that does not cease despite mounting consequences in daily living.
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