Breaking the Cycle of Addiction

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Content Medically Verified by:

Dr. Patricia Sullivan, MD MPH

Article Overview

The Break Out Point Of Addiction

Addiction is a difficult thing to go through in life, and breaking the cycle of addiction can be even more challenging. Understanding the addiction cycle can help patients and rehab professionals better understand rehabilitation and the patient’s unique journeys. All patients will arrive at rehab centers in different stages of the cycle, and a therapist can communicate with the patient and figure out where they are.

This is important because the patient’s recovery plan will need to be carefully designed to fit all aspects of their life. When the patient and the rehab specialists understand where the patient is in the addiction cycle, they can figure out the next steps much more easily. The patient will always have a goal to keep them moving forward and motivating them to recover.

Deciding to reach out for help for addiction is an important step, but it can be a scary one. No one should have to go through this alone. This is why rehab centers make it their top priority to help patients move past addiction. Call (888)906-0952 today for more information on how a rehab center can help you or a loved one today.

Article Contents

Equine Therapy

Addiction is a Cycle

Understanding the process of addiction is key to understanding how to break the addiction cycle. In the 1980s, two alcoholism researchers named Carlo C. Diclemente and J.O. Prochaska created a model of six stages of behavioral change. This model was to be used by professionals to help them understand their clients who suffer from addiction.

People are in different places depending on how they view their addiction and what they want to do about it. It can be difficult for some people to admit they have a problem with addiction, while others know they need help, and might have even tried to quit in the past. Diclemente and Prochaska’s model helps professionals, such as therapists and rehab staff, assess where their patients are coming from and gain some insight into what type of treatment will be most beneficial for them. The stages are:

1. Precontemplation
2. Contemplation
3. Preparation/Determination
4. Action
5. Maintenance
6. Relapse or Termination

A professional at a rehab center can help patients understand where they are on the model. Their treatment plan will depend on this understanding. Everyone faces different struggles and different obstacles, and people from all walks of life find themselves in need of rehab treatment. Thus, it is the responsibility of the facility to custom-design a treatment plan for each patient.

Stages of Behavioral Change

Here are the stages of behavioral change for addicts.

PRECONTEMPLATION

The individuals in this stage are not even thinking about changing their behavior or fighting addiction. They have no intention of getting help because they don’t yet believe they have a problem. There are four reasons that people are in this stage, which Dr. Diclemente calls “the four R’s.”

  • Reluctant precontemplators- The addict does not consider change because of a lack of education on addiction. They may not understand that they have an addiction or that there is help out there for them.
  • Rebellious precontemplators- Some people with a substance abuse addiction are resistant to being told what to do. They want to make their own decisions, and thus do not listen to others and their worries. They are often also too invested in drinking or using drugs to think seriously about stopping.
  • Resigned precontemplators- These addicts have given up hope for change, and they are ready to believe that this addiction will be the end of them. They may not understand that there are people who want them to get clean and sober. Their pessimism is often fueled by failed attempts to quit in the past.
  • Rationalizing precontemplators- These individuals have many arguments ready as to why they do not have a drinking or substance abuse problem. They pretend to have all the answers, and they always have a reason why the person that is bringing up the problem is wrong.

CONTEMPLATION

During this part of the cycle of addiction, individuals are starting to consider that they might have a problem with addiction. They are interested in learning about addiction and treatment. They may even have a list of reasons they do not want to drink or of the problems that drinking causes for them. However, even with this understanding, some patients still cannot make a decision to get clean.

PREPARATION TO ACTION: DETERMINATION

This is the stage where the patient will officially decide to quit their addiction. They will make a serious attempt to quit using and come up with a plan on how to quit abusing substances. The patients can begin to think about some of the challenges they may face and how they will overcome them.

ACTION: IMPLEMENTING THE PLAN

After coming up with a plan, which can be discussed with a therapist, the patient will begin to put the plan into action. They may make a public announcement of their decision to get clean, which allows the patient to receive support and also establishes accountability. Friends and family can help the patient avoid their
addiction and heal.

MAINTENANCE

The fifth past of the addiction cycle is maintenance. This is when the patient has achieved long-term sobriety by avoiding their addiction for long periods of time. They learn new, productive behaviors, such as being self-sustaining. This usually takes between 3-6 months to achieve, and it is the beginning of a substance-free lifestyle.

RELAPSE OR TERMINATION

It is possible for the patient to relapse. Some people get severe cravings to use and may not deal with it in the best way. If they do relapse, they will learn from the experience. The final goal of recovery is termination, which is when the patient experiences no cravings of substances.

Ending the Cycle

Once the person with an addiction has recognized that they have a problem, they will want help to recover. Many people wonder why they cannot get clean or why getting sober is so difficult. Some people cannot overcome the hardships that come with getting over addiction alone. This
is why the role of a rehab center is so important.

Many factors play a part in making quitting substances difficult, such as physical, mental, and emotional problems. A rehab facility can be very effective in treating co-occurring problems and helping guide patients towards recovery. Once the patient understands that all people struggle when trying to overcome addiction, it can allow them to be more compassionate towards themselves when they make mistakes, and motivate them to keep going. The last stage of the cycle of addiction model illustrates how relapse is often a part of the process and not something to beat yourself up over.

Breaking the cycle of addiction is never easy. However, no one has to go through it alone. One-on-one therapy can help patients understand themselves and figure out ways to assist them during the recovery process.

While in rehab, the main focus should be on yourself. You should be working towards improving yourself and your behaviors so you can live out the life you deserve, and your therapist can help.

Another frequent goal is to help the patient improve their relationships. They may have kids, family, and friends who were all affected by their addiction, and all parties need to heal. Family therapy can be very effective in helping people communicate with each other and feel heard and understood.

Mechanisms of Addiction

Tolerance and withdrawal are key factors when dealing with addiction. They are the main processes that cause addiction in the first place. First, the patient builds a tolerance for their substance, and they begin to use more and more to reach the same effects. When the patient wishes to stop their abuse, they experience withdrawal symptoms.

There are physical and psychological withdrawal effects when detoxing from substances such as alcohol. The person with an addiction may feel lost and hopeless. They may not see that they can reach out for help. In the absence of that help, it is like that the withdrawal symptoms will overwhelm the patient and convince them it’s better to keep using.

OPTIONS FOR DETOX

Tolerance is a physical and psychological process. The more times the patient has used the substance, the less sensitivity they will have towards it. In this situation, withdrawals are likely to be highly unpleasant; this is where medical detox comes in.

This type of detox is monitored by medical professionals in a setting where they can safely manage symptoms with the assistance of medicine. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Shaking
  • Headaches
  • Feeling sick

In more severe cases, seizures and hallucinations are possible. Medical detox will require the patient to stay in a facility under supervision as this stage can be dangerous or even deadly if not handled correctly. Medical professionals will ensure that the process is done right and is as comfortable as possible.

There are also psychological withdrawal symptoms, which can occur with substances such as methamphetamine. They include feeling anxious and depressed.

When the patient relapses because of withdrawal, they can either learn from it or restart the drug addiction cycle from the beginning. It can be hard to stop using all over again, but until you get through detox there is no moving on to the next stage of rehab.

For those whose withdrawal symptoms are mainly psychological, the treatment team may suggest avoiding medical detox in favor of social detox. The latter still requires the patient to stay in a facility under watch, but allows them to manage their detox by interacting with staff and other patients rather than using medication. During social detox, the patient will communicate with their therapist about their treatment plan and the services that can best help them heal.

Getting Help

Those suffering from addiction deserve support and compassion, as well as a rehab center that truly wants to help. Once the sufferer has found the center that is right for them, an important part of treatment will be figuring out where the patient is in the addiction cycle. This will help patients and therapists decide which treatment plan is the most appropriate and which services will be the most beneficial to the patient.

The addiction cycle is important to understand as this gives everyone more insight into how addiction works. Each individual person who enters into a rehab facility is unique. Everyone has different reasons for using and will need different treatments.

About the Author

Hailey Sartain

Hailey Sartain is a writer residing in Arizona. She has dealt with addiction and mental health issues all her life, and now she is trying to make a difference for those in the same positions through her writing. Writing has always been a passion of hers. Hailey enjoys writing articles, essays, short stories, and books, which have all been created throughout her writing career. She enjoys being able to make an impact on people’s lives and making her voice heard.

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