The Stages of Addiction: A Vicious Cycle

For example, people who use methamphetamine for a long time may experience paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions that may be mistaken for symptoms of schizophrenia. Understanding the cycle of addiction helps individuals know when they or a loved one might be at risk for a downward spiral that can be tough to recover from. Stages can overlap, and professionals may call them by different names. People addicted to substances tend to move through phases of substance use from seemingly harmless to uncontrollable and destructive. Individuals may go through the treatment process, but because addiction is a relapsing brain disease, some may only get temporary relief before they start abusing substances again.

  • This is marked by the onset of cravings when a person does not get access to the substances they want and need.
  • Treatment can help prevent worst-case scenarios, such as severe brain damage or even death.
  • This is called tolerance and may lead to use of the substance in greater amounts and/or more frequently in an attempt to experience the initial level of reinforcement.
  • Understanding the five stages of addiction recovery can be useful for addicted people and their family members.
  • Decades of research demonstrate that chronic substance misuse leads to profound disruptions of brain circuits involved in the experience of pleasure or reward, habit formation, stress, and decision-making.
  • As a client at The Raleigh House, you’ll receive evidence-based treatments that are known to help people overcome substance use.

This system also contributes to reward by affecting the function of dopamine neurons and the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. The process by which removal of a stimulus such as negative feelings or emotions increases the probability of a response like drug taking. When people are in the precontemplation stage, they are often not very interested in hearing about negative consequences or advice to quit their addiction. I didn’t want to move, couldn’t eat, didn’t want to talk to anyone, and felt physically sick.

Stage 7: Crisis/Treatment

Many drinkers are arrested for a DUI at this point, and all users will likely see their work or school performance suffer notably. The frequent use may also lead to financial difficulties where there were none before. Various forms of individual counseling still form a strong basis for the treatment of drug abuse.

  • Abusing drugs or alcohol impacts the brain, causing progressive changes in the structure and function of the brain.
  • New drugs or drug combinations, delivery systems, and routes of administration emerge, and with them new questions for public health.
  • Repeated substance abuse that happens over a period of time leads to these changes.
  • People with addictions may be in the contemplation stages for many years.

Without the substances, they undergo painful and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The reasons why substance use disorders and mental disorders often occur together are not clear, and establishing the relationships between these conditions is difficult. Second, substance use disorders may increase vulnerability for mental disorders,62-64 meaning that the use of certain substances might trigger a mental disorder that otherwise would have not occurred. As these possibilities are not mutually exclusive, the relationship between substance use disorders and mental disorders may result from a combination of these processes.

Understanding the Cycle of Addiction

Aftercare helps you stay on track and keep practicing what you learned while in rehab. It can also be helpful for the addicted person themselves to gain self-understanding using this model. Insight is a powerful tool for change because it makes it easier to be mindful of decisions you’re making in the moment. Understanding the cycle of addiction can help you decide if you or a loved one needs treatment. Dependency and addiction are words that are sometimes used interchangeably, and though the words are similar and frequently connected in drug use, they are different. One of the biggest differences is that when a person develops an addiction, their drug use is no longer a conscious choice.

Pleasure is detected by the brain because of the interaction of dopamine with the nucleus accumbens, which is the region where the reward circuit lives. Common substances such as drugs and alcohol become the vice that brings on those desires. The need for drugs or alcohol to fulfill these emotional needs starts to increase, how to break the addiction cycle and a habit is formed. No matter where you or a loved one is in the cycle of addiction, it is critical to take action today to change your future. We offer a wide range of tools and resources to support your best long-term goals. Learn more about our residential treatment programs and how they can help you.

Stage 5: Addiction

This can lead to increasingly risky behaviors, like using the substance before driving or using it at work. Much of this depends on the age of the individual and what they’re taking. For example, while drinking alcohol at 16 has been proven to be dangerous, having a drink or two at a friend’s house is a relatively normal experience that, on its own, may not lead to a substance abuse issue. However, a 12-year-old experimenting with opioids would present a much higher risk of developing drug dependence. Addiction can slowly fester and build over a prolonged period of time depending on how your body reacts to the substance of abuse. We will look at the different stages of addiction to help you better understand how addiction affects all parts of your body.

what is the first stage in the cycle of addiction

This is called withdrawal, which often leads the person to use the substance again to relieve the withdrawal symptoms. A growing body of substance use research conducted with humans is complementing the work in animals. For example, human studies have benefited greatly from the use of brain-imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans. The technologies also allow them to understand how differences in brain structure and function may contribute to substance use, misuse, and addiction.

The Effects of Addiction

Our patients have succeeded in overcoming their cravings with the help of our therapies and professionals. Once the brain is hooked on alcohol or drugs, it enters this second phase where an absence of the substance triggers a negative reaction. These effects can include sour moods, anxiety, dysphoria and increased stress. These withdrawal symptoms are triggered by parts of the brain known as the extended amygdala and the habenula.