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Cycle of Addiction

drawing of green arrows in a circle depicting a cycle - cycle of addiction - Fair Oaks Recovery Center of california - sacramento drug addiction and alcoholism rehab centerIn 21st century America, addiction appears to be the ‘diagnosis du jour’. Acceptance of addiction in our culture can be measured by popular opinion that reflects and/or assigns the diagnosis to anyone who over-indulges in food, exercise, shopping, gambling, traveling, internet activity, and so on and so on.

In contrast, medical and behavioral health clinicians reserve the diagnosis of addiction to individuals who exhibit a brain disease that repeatedly corrupts choices and behavior; disrupts personal/work/professional relationships; and isolates the afflicted person. Medical and behavioral health professionals substantiate their diagnosis by observing and documenting their client/patient’s cycle of addiction.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, “a cycle is a series of events that are regularly repeated in the same order”. The cycle of addiction (below) describes the progression of a disease that develops over time. As long as the addict is still breathing, it is never too late to interrupt the cycle of addiction by altering habits and creating some structure that supports and empowers the addict.

  1. Anxiety/frustration/depression
  2. Cravings
  3. Obsession
  4. Drug seeking
  5. Uncontrolled use of drugs/alcohol
  6. Guilt/shame/hopelessness
  7. Isolation
  8. Anxiety/frustration/depression

Over time, just as a host of other diseases develop and present a set of signs and symptoms, so goes the disease of addiction.  Likewise, in the early stages of many diseases (including addiction), it is not uncommon for a patient or health care provider to overlook or underplay some of the underlying signs. Nonetheless, when the cycle of addiction begins to play out, there is no amount of lipstick, cologne or excuses that can hide what is.
While there is no cure for the disease, the addict can learn the signals associated with his/her active disease and develop an action plan that interrupts the cycle of addiction. The inner work toward  breaking the cycle begins when the addict is ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired’ and surrenders to the fact that the cycle of addiction will most likely ‘dog’ him/her throughout their lifetime.

In order to manage the cycle of addiction, the addict must be willing to participate in changing the course of his disease. There is no passive treatment for addiction; in other words, no magic bullet that stops its progression. It is a powerful disease and recovery demands that the addict be ‘all in’; fully present, vigilant, and committed to relinquishing habits, friends, and/or whatever it takes to unleash him/herself from the very vicious cycle of addiction.

“They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change yourself”

~Andy Warhol

Cycle. Def. 1. (2015). In Oxford English dictionary online, Retrieved from

If someone you love is struggling with addiction or experiencing consequences of drug abuse, please feel free to contact us anytime at (888) 989-9690. We’re here to help.