The cycle of addiction is a vicious one. It is deeply embedded in a person’s psyche and eventually reroutes the neurotransmitters in one’s brain, which create the deeply habitual patterns experienced in addiction. According to the American Psychological Association, also referred to as the APA, addiction directly impacts a person’s perception of pleasure, motivation, and memory. While there are many external factors, addiction is an arbitrarily genetic issue. This means that those who are predisposed to be addicts will have a more difficult time resisting the urge to stop. In this article we will discuss the stages of the addiction cycle, and the best possible methods to intervene.
The first phase of the addiction cycle is “initial use”, and can happen in many different ways. It can be as innocent as starting a new prescription drug to manage pain, peer pressure, the celebration of a birthday, etc. Regardless of the reasoning for trying it, Mayo Clinic describes a few factors that may segue into an addiction: enabling peers, abuse, neglect, depression, social issues, or family history of substance abuse. The next stage of the addiction cycle is continued abuse. This means that the usage becomes more frequent, and often times, more intense. The doses become higher to mask unfavorable symptoms. The third phase is tolerance. By this point, the brain has made significant changes as an evolutionary response to the substance. It no longer produces the same amount of neurochemicals because it has been replaced by the drug. This leads into the fourth phase, dependence. Because the brain has become so acclimated to the substance, the user has intense cravings for the substance and will abandon much of their previous life and past times searching for it. Now that the user is fully addicted, the next phase is tolerance. This is the stage where the brain has adapted completely to the drug and now requires more of it to function normally. Therefore, the dosage is increased and the frequency is amped up. By this point in the cycle, the brain has endured a great deal of physiological damage. The next progression is dependence, and any attempt to stop using generates a plethora of intense withdrawal symptoms.
However, the severity of the withdrawal will depend on the type of drug and the typical amount used. The final stage of addiction is relapse. This often is the byproduct of attempting to stop using. In this phase, the person struggling with addiction seeks out the substance again to reclaim what they believe is a “normal” state of existence.
Being addicted is an extremely low quality of life. That is why Asana Recovery is dedicated to helping those affected by addiction regain their lives back. We offer a variety of comprehensive services devoted to helping you or your loved ones fight their need to use, and to retrain their cognitive thought patterns. If you are seeking counsel on how to fight addiction, reach us at (949) 438-4504 for a consultation. Recovery is only one phone call away.