If you or someone close to you is struggling with addiction, you might think it’s a linear process that moves through certain stages, but once they get help, those stages are complete. However, the cycle of addiction is a bit more complicated.
Understanding Cyclic Addiction
Addiction is a chronic condition that causes significant changes to the brain, particularly areas that control/influence:
As is the case with all chronic conditions, it’s not something that happens overnight but rather builds gradually in stages. This type of cyclic addiction is defined by the six stages of the addiction cycle.
What is The Addiction Cycle?
The addiction cycle is comprised of six stages. However, some of these stages can take place simultaneously, and it’s not uncommon for people to bounce back and forth near the latter stages.
Cyclic Addiction Stage One
The first stage in the cycle of addiction is when an individual uses drugs or alcohol for the first time. This can be something as simple as having a first drink when turning twenty-one or getting a prescription filled after a car accident.
No matter how this cycle begins, it represents the first stage in this addiction cycle. The first stage does not necessarily guarantee movement through the other stages but can set the foundation for it.
Clients are at a higher risk of moving through the other stages if they:
- Have a history of substance abuse in their family or in their past
- Have mental health disorders
- Struggle with abuse
- Live in an unsupportive and unsafe home
- Have peers or family who support substance abuse
- Struggle with social issues or loneliness
Stage two in the cycle of addiction is abuse. This is when that same twenty-one-year-old or spouse with a prescription takes higher doses and uses substances more often than they should. This might include regular binge drinking or taking twice as many painkillers as prescribed.
The stage represents the point at which an individual abuses their substance intentionally.
Addiction Stage Three
As an individual abuses drugs and alcohol more frequently, it leads to the third stage in the addiction cycle: tolerance. Over time, substance abuse causes changes in the brain such that a person can tolerate higher doses or more frequent consumption.
When this happens, recreating the original high or whatever feeling came from stage one requires higher doses or more frequent doses.
Cyclic Addiction Stage Four
The fourth stage is one that comes shortly after the third, and that is dependence. When someone becomes dependent, it means they can’t function normally without drugs or alcohol.
The fifth stage in the cycle of addiction is defined as addiction. This is when the condition is considered a chronic mental health disorder, and individuals:
- Use more than they plan
- Cannot stop using or drinking even if they want to
- Have problems with their work, school, or relationships because of their addiction
- Spend most of their time using or recovering
- Stop participating in hobbies or other enjoyable social activities to drink or do drugs
- Experience physical and mental health problems because of addiction
- Have severe withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop
At this stage, individuals might experience only a few symptoms, considered mild addiction. Others might experience all or most symptoms indicative of a severe condition requiring residential care.
The final stage is relapse. There is a risk of relapse with any chronic condition. People are at risk of reaching this stage and finding themselves back in stage five or even stage four if they try to quit cold turkey without any support, if the initial treatment they receive isn’t the proper treatment they need, or several other factors that can contribute.
With aftercare programs, you can decrease the risk of moving into this stage.
Getting the Right Help
If you or someone close to you is in stage six and you have experienced a relapse, it is not indicative of failure. Instead, it means that the treatment received may not have supported your needs best. With Liberty House, we provide comprehensive inpatient drug rehab services in Michigan, which might be the right solution for someone with a severe addiction.
We also offer personalized treatment regardless of stage. If you find yourself or a loved one struggling in stage three or stage four of cyclic addiction, don’t be afraid to seek help before things progress.
Reach out to our team today to learn more about finding help for addiction.