The 5 Stages of Addiction Alvernia University Online

When they find success in rehab, they realize it wasn’t that rehab didn’t work—it was the initial approach to rehab that hadn’t worked for them. This is the stage at which an individual seeks alcohol again after a period of abstinence. A person becomes preoccupied with alcohol and how to get more of it, and looks forward to the next time he or she will consume it.

With stimulants, it might be headache, weakness, anxiety, paranoia. Our treatment approach includes family therapy and education. It requires patience, inner strength, and a complete support system.

Continued Use / Abuse

The addiction cycle doesn’t have to run its full course for someone to be released from its shackles. When you’re trying to break the cycle of addiction, you don’t have to define who’s right, but it’s instrumental to tune into what’s right for you. Before you can break the cycle of addiction, you first have to confirm that the issue is addiction. Remember that there is no fixed timeline for how long it takes an addiction to develop. Depending on the substance in question, addiction can take hold in anywhere from a few weeks to over the course of several months or years. Moreover, recognizing this cycle can also be a useful relapse prevention tool.

To help you better understand the addiction cycle and identify where your loved one falls, we’ve broken down its phases below. If your loved one falls anywhere in this cycle, rest assured that there is still a great chance for a breakthrough – for a chance at sobriety. Once dopamine levels decrease, all of the earlier stress, anxiety, resentment, anger, and fear resurface. Substance abuse and addictive behaviors do not solve any issues but instead exacerbate whatever someone was running from in the first place. As soon as another problem appears, the addiction cycle begins once again, getting worse each time. To break the grip that drugs or alcohol have on your life, you will have to interrupt the cycle of addiction by seeking treatment.

Recovery Connection

It can become harder to hold a steady job, which can create problems in all facets of life. The good news is that if you can identify that you’re in an early stage of substance abuse, you can break the cycle before full-blown addiction occurs. As with any attempt to stop substance misuse and abuse, there are withdrawal symptoms.

  • Substance-induced psychotic disorder, characterized by hallucinations and/or delusions due to the direct effects of a substance or withdrawal from a substance in the absence of delirium.
  • The abnormal, addicted brain cannot tolerate that decision.
  • They can make it very difficult to recover unless they’re addressed.
  • They may have every intention of stopping once their situation is under control, but that can be extremely difficult.
  • To achieve long-term sobriety, you have to process and heal underlying traumas that may be triggering the addiction.

A certified addiction treatment counselor (CADC-II), Alisa has seven years of experience working in the substance abuse field. Alisa has a passion for both helping others in recovery and guiding women through the process of rebuilding a valued life and increasing their self-worth. She embraces her strengths of empathy and patience to help others develop upon their inherent set of skills and seek purpose based on their own abilities. Currently, Alisa is working towards a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with hopes of becoming a therapist.


For people with more severe cases of addiction and mental illness, they are admitted into a residential treatment program. Patients live in the inpatient facility where they receive around-the-clock care, including medication management, and attending various therapy sessions . The treatment process usually starts with an intake interview with a rehab facility administrator. The intake administrator’s job is to gather information about your addiction details and circumstances and assess how heavy substance abuse took over your life. As for the mind, there’s a psychological component in the substance abuse cycle. Eventually, there comes a point when the user fears being without their substance of choice.

A deeper look at the addiction cycle provides insight into what occurs during each stage. The stages of the cycle of addiction are internal frustration, fantasizing, obsessing, substance abuse, loss of control, guilt about using, stopping usage, and a calm, inactive-addictive period. The stages move through a predictable pattern of internal emotional triggers leading to outward action, followed by internal feelings of shame and guilt. The addicted person then stops using for a time, creating a false sense of security. Eventually, they will experience another internal trigger and repeat the cycle unless they seek treatment.

Take Your Life Back

However, every addict is unique and there is no set number of days that it takes to stop the addiction cycle. Setting a specific number of days when you are supposed to break a habit is an obvious way to get frustrated and give up on your sobriety. An addictive cycle includes a range of bad habits, which means that breaking a cycle ill require breaking each of the habits involved in that cycle. Making a habit out of this coping mechanism impacts the brain and its reward system. Addictive substances alter the brain’s grey matter and direct which path the brain will take the next time the substance is used. When this alteration occurs, the brain’s powerful role in human behavior pushes addiction further and pulls individuals into the toxic cycle.

Which factors may increase the likelihood of a person using drugs?

  • Family history of addiction. Drug addiction is more common in some families and likely involves genetic predisposition.
  • Mental health disorder.
  • Peer pressure.
  • Lack of family involvement.
  • Early use.
  • Taking a highly addictive drug.

At this point, the individual has become trapped in the cycle of addiction and quitting will take a significant amount of hard work. A veteran of two branches of the U.S. military, Max is continuing his education in healthcare administration. Max began his career in the addiction field working as a group facilitator and teacher, developing and delivering a successful faith-based curriculum in a long-term residential treatment setting. Throughout that process, he learned the importance of helping others and living by spiritual principles.

Once an individual is unable to cope without the use of the drug or substance of their choice, it is likely a full-fledged addiction to that drug or substance is occurring. Some individuals maintain their job and home life without showing blatant signs of addiction (known as a “high-functioning addict”), or those that are presented are subtle. Central to the development of an addiction arising from drug use is the brain’s Cycle of Addiction “reward system,” and how a substance affects and activates the system. The pleasurable, often euphoric feeling that people experience as a result of taking drugs (the “high”) may be so profound that they neglect other normal activities in favor of continued drug use. The pharmacological mechanisms for each class of drug are different, but the activation of the reward system is similar across all substances.

  • It usually happens with recovering addicts who use drugs and alcohol in social situations, such as family, friends, parties, etc.
  • Opioids, for example, are often prescribed to patients as a way to deal with persistent pain.
  • At this point, they’ve essentially rewired their brain to need the drug.
  • However, most people with AUD—no matter their age or the severity of their alcohol problems—can benefit from treatment with behavioral health therapies, medications, or both.
  • Michelle obtained a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Brandman University and is working towards her masters in social work.
  • Remember, addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease, which means that it is highly possible, even probable, for people to go back to using before they are finally free.