To onlookers, to be addicted to a stimulus represents a consistent, ongoing desire and/or action, which links to a choice.

While we cannot disregard the initial choice of consumption that users have when considering drug, alcohol or further stimuli, we cannot back such ongoing voluntary.

In fact, addiction is aggravated and sustained through a cycle. This cycle is completely involuntary and can be uncontrollable despite the negative consequences it may have.

The addiction cycle is broken up into a number of stages. Each stage is impactful, in different ways, either motivating or aggravating addictive behaviours. As each stage of the addiction cycle is resilient, breaking such cycle is seen as impossible unless a motive of recovery is experienced while sourcing professional support.

As many individuals do believe that addiction is a choice, stereotyping those affected, it’s essential that we promote the reality of the addiction cycle.

Whether you’re judging others, worried about those around you, or personally feel addicted to the likes of drugs or alcohol, here’s some insight into the stages of the addiction cycle. Breaking those stages can be possible with awareness, professional backing, and the commitment to overcome addiction.


What is the addiction cycle?

The addiction cycle is the process and experience that addicts move through once a diagnosis or symptoms of addiction are encountered. Such stages can also begin to materialise prior to the development of an addiction, however, commonly, the entire cycle is seen for those with uncontrollable addictive behaviours.

There are many different reasons as to why addiction can materialise. Such reasons are usually personal, are associated with emotional responses, and within such responses, elevate the supportive and escape.

Once emotional triggers, or sometimes the influence of social, environmental, psychological or biological factors surface, paired with ongoing exposure of addictive behaviours, the initial motive of the cycle is found which forms the 360-process.

Broken into the stages of development, cravings, behaviours, exposure/consumption and remorse, the cycle can be engulfing, manipulating and the catalyst for long-term addiction.

This is the exact reason why lone recovery, going cold turkey or getting clean is easier said than done, as users must contend with each stage of the cycle, brought together as a collective force.


Stages of the addiction cycle

The addiction cycle is broken up into 5 different stages. Each has an impactful, direct effect on behaviours, outlooks, responses, coping and the intensity of addiction.

Starting off with the development stage, which is commonly associated with emotional triggers, addicts usually experience some degree of trauma, stress or distress, prior to the consumption of their addiction.

For example, a traumatic event, pre-existing mental health issues, and stress are leading addiction triggers, highlighting the desirability of escapism through the likes of drugs and alcohol.

Advancing towards the stage of cravings, here’s where users will crave the effects of addictive stimuli, in order to digest, process and forget about emotional responses.

This is the moment where addictive stimuli are positioned above emotional needs, as their effects offer relief and respite from such triggers. Most users will struggle with positive experiences of stress management and emotional management, which is why unhealthy addictions are instead relied upon.

Cravings are usually constant, which once heightened, will advance to the next stage of behaviours which is where actions, feelings and outlooks allow for such addictive behaviours to reside.

Described as a routine, users will accommodate the effects and potential consequences of their addiction in order to experience the positives of their consumption. It’s found that ingrained behaviours can make addiction recovery a challenging prospect, as individual characteristics and actions have now been adapted through the cycle.

The addiction cycle continues through to the consumption/exposure stage, which is where addiction is fed through the likes of drug abuse, alcohol consumption or the partake in gambling activity.

Through the enablement of ritual use, where behaviours are allowed, it’s inevitable that the cycle will motivate the active fuelling of addictive habits, as such routine has amounted to accommodate this behaviour.

Remorse is the final stage of the addiction cycle, which is a very common emotion, on a post-consumption basis. Many users will feel guilty, will experience negative and low feelings, and will begin to battle with themselves.

This is usually the point where the idea of recovery and breaking the cycle heightens. However, without an urgent standpoint, the addiction cycle commonly restarts, where such remorse turns into stress, depression or pressure, acting as emotional triggers.

The stages of the addiction cycle are personal, sensitive and variable, meaning that the intensify and timespan of such cycle will vary for each individual. Yet the common consensus is, is that the addiction cycle is real, is impactful and is controlling, fuelling ongoing choices, behaviours, actions and responses, subconsciously.


Breaking the cycle of addiction

It’s clear to see why breaking the cycle of addiction can be extremely tough. Emotions for the average person can sometimes be difficult to digest, and even harder when paired with the idea of escapism through addiction.

Through tried and tested behaviour, such addictions are craved, is accommodated and is consumed, aiming for relief, change and respite. Yet, through the negatives and consequences of addiction, remorse, self-infliction and anger are common responses, unknowingly found to restart the addiction cycle.

As the cycle can be complex, especially when adding in the potential of a dual diagnosis, breaking the cycle with professional support will be essential. Through rehab, addiction treatment services, a 12-step plan and management can all be experienced, to break, suppress and control the addiction cycle.

Detoxing from substances will be encouraged alongside emotional management to understand and digest emotions. This is very important to deter the next stage of cravings, to reach a point of stabilisation before an escape is longed for.

By also developing healthy behaviours and rituals, by utilising positive coping strategies and by strengthening your mindset, consumption can be bypassed, resulting in happier and healthier views and relationships.

Addiction recovery will focus on retuning associations, finding coping strategies which promote positivity and managing emotional responses to reflect rational and logical behaviours.


Professional support here at Asana Lodge

At Asana Lodge, we can support you through the addiction recovery process, with the aim to break the cycle. We will work with you to revert habits, unpick routines, and change your outlooks, to deter the accommodation of addiction.

The addiction cycle can be very strong and resilient. Yet with support and treatment, you can too. Understanding the cause of your addiction will be very important to control subsequent steps of the addiction cycle. Through our rehab offering, you can work to break the addiction cycle.


John Gillen - Author - Last Updated: 21 May 2021

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of Nad+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. his passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases.

The journey continues, in recent times john has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with Nad+ scientists and the very best of the medical profession in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Clinics own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists, Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with Nad+ therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.

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