In a study conducted by Turnbridge, results showed that nearly 22 million Americans were classified as dependent on alcohol and/or illicit drugs. Some people begin drinking for the euphoric feeling it gives them, but continue drinking for months or even years as a coping mechanism.
The start of drinking something for fun can turn people down a terrible whirlwind of getting trapped in the addiction cycle. From there even after finishing treatment or during the early stages of recovery, it can be common for individuals to relapse.
The road to recovery can be challenging and difficult; however, at Live Free Recovery Services in New Hampshire, we help individuals face their struggles with addiction and stay away from influences that can lead to relapse.
What is the Cycle of Addiction?
Research on drug and alcohol addiction has unequivocally shown that the addicted brain differs from a healthy brain both chemically and physically. Addiction is a chronic brain disorder that affects the reward, pleasure, memory, and motivation centers of the brain, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. It doesn’t just manifest itself one day, as many chronic conditions do.
Frequently, a number of factors come together over time to make someone who would typically enjoy social drinking or abstain from substance usage develop a drug or alcohol addiction. The addiction cycle is when being trapped in an endless spiral of abusing substances for so long becomes more of a coping mechanism from the difficulties a person is shying away from.
As with other chronic disorders, addiction in this scenario typically develops across a number of stages and frequently results in a cycle of addiction. One who tends to casually drink may develop addictive habits. The various stages of addiction might develop quickly or they can take months or even years to manifest.
Understanding how substance use disorders (SUDs) develop and how to recover depends on the notion that it is a neurological condition. A person can eventually attempt to break the cycle of addiction and transition into a better way of life. A person with addiction may be aware of the cycle of addiction, but unless they gain the insight to get help, they will not be able to stop the pattern from repeating.
Causes of Addiction
Life itself can be difficult. From the stress of finances, emotional burdens or relationships, professional environment, to even family issues. These burdens can produce stress, anxiety, anger, and fear. Sometimes these kinds of stress become too hard for a person to handle on their own, which is where they resort to sometimes using substances to numb their emotions.
By trying to numb these emotions, these substances become a way for people to gain rapid relief and fall into the cycle of addiction.
Effects of Addiction
While these substances may help in various ways to ease this pain that an individual is feeling, it becomes a coping mechanism and a reward system. According to Board Walk Recovery Center, these addictive substances alter the brain’s grey matter and direct which path the brain will take the next time the substance is used. When this occurs the brain tends to push more and more towards addiction and there comes the beginning of a toxic cycle.
The act of abusing a substance creates this periodic craving for the substance which can lead to a relapse. According to the National Library of Medicine, more than 60 percent of people treated for a substance use disorder experience relapse within the first year after they are discharged from treatment, and a person can remain at increased risk of relapse for many years. The addiction cycle disrupts normal functions, such as motor functions, the parts of the brain that help you think, emotions, and memory.
The Cycle of Addiction Stages
The addiction cycle does not occur after only one drink, but after abusing the substance for months. For example, an individual can drink occasionally and not be addicted to the substance; however, if the person chooses to drink more than often and finds themselves drinking day and night for a month or more, they could become addicted. The stages of addiction include:
Some people’s addiction is provoked by being peer pressured by friends or family, due to other risk factors such as genetics, mental health issues, or engaging in substance use to numb the pain. Even though it may be an individual’s first time using drugs or drinking alcohol, it’s a risk because it could be their first step towards dependency, which often leads to addiction.
The next stage of the addiction cycle is substance abuse. This is where the individual is using the substance more than normal. In other words, the individual is using the substance in a way that is harmful to their body and mind. An example of this could be if an individual begins to take a prescribed painkiller at a higher dosage more frequently.
Tolerance is when a person gets used to the addiction. The brain begins to tolerate the substance and the person eventually needs a higher dosage of the substance because the original no longer produces the same physical or mental effect. Over time, the individual would fill the need to continuously increase their dosage as the cycle continues.
After the brain has tolerated the substance for so long it becomes a need to take that substance to function properly. The brain becomes reliant on those doses or the individual’s drinking habits. Without taking the drug or drinking, the individual feels ill. It becomes even more difficult to stop.
This is the stage where abusing a substance becomes diagnosed as a condition based on symptoms and behaviors an individual portrays. Some of these signs and symptoms may include:
- Using more of the substance than the original plan
- The inability to stop using
- A decline in relationships
- A decline in the activities that the individual usually enjoys doing
- Craving the substance
- Continuously taking the substance despite the negative effects
- Developing tolerance
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop
Sometimes even after seeking help and receiving it from a rehabilitation center an individual can relapse. According to The Recovery Village, “While first years can be the hardest……21.4% of recovering alcoholics relapse in their second year in recovery, but only 9.6% relapsed in years three through five.” This means that at some point the individual will perhaps relapse.
The Relationship Between Dependency and Addiction
Dependency is the effect that the drug has on an individual, whether it is the tolerance the person has for the drug or the withdrawal the individual is going through. It is possible to be physically dependent without being addicted but that sometimes means that the individual is close to being addicted. Usually, whenever someone is going through withdrawal they have symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, and seizures. For this reason, it is important to seek help at a recovery center than go through withdrawal alone.
Addiction, on the other hand, is when a person is diagnosed with a medical condition. Addiction can be caused by the social environment someone is in, life experiences, or even genetics. Addiction causes the behavior to change due to the modifications of the brain. The substance becomes the person’s lifestyle and regardless of if they are hurting themselves or others, the individual cannot live without it. People tend to act irrationally when they do not have the substance in their system.
Addiction Treatments at Live Free Recovery
Whether an individual wants to stay at home and travel to the center or live at the facility we ensure that the individual is getting treated based on their needs. At Live Free Recovery we offer many programs and treatment options for individuals who seek help. These include:
In our inpatient rehab center, we offer long-term and short-term residential treatment. In the long-term residential treatment, our program uses the whole community including the staff and other residents to help develop personal responsibility and accountability along with socially productive lives. This program lasts usually between 6-12 months and since it’s highly structured can be confrontational sometimes. On the other hand, short-term residential treatments use a 12-step approach to target those who are addicted to alcohol.
It’s easy to get distracted when it comes to getting treated. Our sober living programs include an individualized addiction recovery plan to help the individual get back on track. Peer-to-peer interaction helps newer members adjust to their surroundings and makes living sober easier. It creates a better environment for new residents and allows them to grow a strong sober living network.
Getting sober is the first part of the process; however, after being at a treatment center for so long it can be hard to go back into society. In our halfway houses we take people from different criminal backgrounds or who have drug addiction tendencies and give them a place to nurture the necessary skills to transition back into society, better support, and care for themselves. There are professional staffs that sometimes work in these houses, offering, clinical services, skills training, and monitoring behavior.
We provide medication-assisted treatment for individuals with opioid use disorder. We have licensed healthcare providers who work to identify the key issues the individual is facing and treat them accordingly. These medications are usually used to reduce cravings, improve mood, and reduce addictive behaviors.
Relapse is common, but it doesn’t have to be. Self-medicating or detoxing on your own is not advised. Here at Live Free Recovery, we help create a routine for recovery that individuals use to prevent relapse. Through our multiple pathways to recovering, including the 12-steps, medicated assisted care, and other treatment programs we help individuals go back into society and show them techniques they can use to prevent relapse. The individual would create healthy habits such as preventing feelings of restlessness and boredom, managing stress, and improving sleeping habits.
Break the Cycle of Addiction at Live Free Recovery
Here at Live Free Recovery, we understand how hard it can be to break the cycle of addiction. We have served multiple individuals who have faced the same issues that you or a loved one may be facing right now and brought them back to society. We can do the same for you. Contact us today to learn more.