Explaining The Cycle Of Addiction

Addiction is defined as a chronic brain disease. This disease affects the brain in all areas: reward, pleasure, motivation, and memory. The cycle of addiction does not occur overnight. The process is gradual and often related to many influencing factors taking place in a person’s life. Miracles Recovery Center is committed to walking you through the steps of breaking the cycle of addiction that is occurring in you or your loved one’s life.

What Is Addiction and What Causes It?

Many influences can cause you to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Factors such as these can play a part:

Psychological Influences

Biological Influences

Environmental Influences

Social Influences

One of the greatest reasons for addiction, however, is due to genetics. The makeup of your brain can cause you to need a larger amount of stimulation. This stimulation causes you to want to use drugs or alcohol for you to feel happier or more calm. 

Drugs or alcohol become the vice that brings on those desired feelings. The need for drugs or alcohol to fulfill these emotional needs starts to increase, and a habit is formed. Thus begins the cycle of addiction. 

The cycle of addiction

The Cycle Of Addiction

The process that takes place as you become addicted to drugs or alcohol is known as the phases of addiction. This process occurs over varying lengths of time and is different for each person. The steps include:

Initial Use

The initial use of drugs or alcohol can occur as much in innocence as it could happen intentionally and knowingly by taking an illegal substance. It may begin with a prescription for medication to relieve pain. It may be as simple as your first drink in college or the first time you were pressured by your peers to smoke marijuana.

You may be at a higher risk factor of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol if you’re faced with challenges such as:

  • An unstable living environment
  • Depression
  • Abuse or neglect
  • A family history of substance abuse or mental illness
cycle of addiction


Substance abuse occurs when drugs or alcohol have affected your life in a harmful manner. The abuse may occur quickly if the substance has an overpowering effect on your body. If you are using the drug or alcohol to feel a “high” or to self-medicate a physical or mental health issue then substance abuse is taking place.


The use of drugs or alcohol over an extended period of time can cause your tolerance level to increase. For you to continue to feel a high from the drugs or alcohol, there is a need to consume more or increase the number of times the substance is used. This increased tolerance level is caused by chemical changes in your brain.

Man with hands over his face


When you find that you can no longer cope without drugs or alcohol, dependence has taken place. Dependence causes physiological changes in your brain. Some symptoms of dependence are:

  • Unstable relationships with family, friends, and peers
  • Cravings for the drug or alcohol
  • Lack of responsibility for daily activities
  • Intense focus on finding and using the substance 


The repeated use of drugs or alcohol causes addiction. Defined, addiction is a complex chronic mental health disorder that is the result of compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences. Addiction overwhelms a person’s life to the point that the substance is their primary focus


The last phase of the cycle of addiction is relapse. It occurs after a person’s failed attempt at ending their addiction to drugs or alcohol. Relapse causes them to seek out the substance that first led them into the addiction cycle. 

Substance Abuse and Its Effect On the Brain

Drugs and alcohol change the way your brain functions. Substance abuse also changes the chemistry of your brain. Serotonin and dopamine are the neurotransmitters in your brain that are affected. For the addiction to be satisfied your brain sends signals that trigger the need for the drug or alcohol.

The mental conditions that are created with the use of the drug or alcohol will cause the body to feel good while using the substance. It then also causes the body to crave the substance when that level of comfort decreases. When you try to stop using the substance your brain sends mixed signals that create confusing physical and mental feelings.

This roller coaster of emotions can cause you to relapse and return to the drug addiction cycle. The battle of addiction is a difficult one to face. The consequences of drug or alcohol addiction are very serious. Long-term use of drugs or alcohol can lead to severe brain damage or death.

Can The Cycle of Addiction Break?

It is very possible to break the cycle of addiction. The final decision to make the break is in your hands. The journey to the final point of sobriety may be a roller coaster ride of ups and downs that may include relapses and other struggles.

The cycle of addiction may be broken for several reasons. For some, the addiction cycle is forced to change because of

  • Legal issues – consequences that occur with law enforcement 
  • Financial troubles – inability to pay your bills
  • Medical complications – some health issues that arise out of the drug or alcohol abuse may include heart problems, high blood pressure, liver problems
  • Social problems – circumstances that bring the addiction to light in your peer or friend groups

Breaking the drug addiction cycle requires a lot of work and dedication on your part. You will need to accept help from medical staff, possibly be admitted to a detox facility, and commit to continued support to reach and maintain your goal of sobriety.

Treatment Programs That Help to Break the Cycle of Addiction

The treatment options that aid in maintaining a break in the cycle of addiction can include:

  • In-patient or outpatient rehabilitation
  • Detox
  • Sober living homes
  • Addiction treatment medications
  • Counseling
  • Addiction education
  • Various therapy treatments
  • Relapse prevention
  • Peer support groups
  • Aftercare programs
Relapse can occur when you become frustrated or feel overwhelmed by the process of breaking the cycle of addiction. Everyone is different in how they handle the stages of reaching and maintaining their sobriety. It is important to remember that it will take time and patience to get the right treatment plan in place.

Treatment Options Available at Miracles Recovery Center

The cycle of addiction that can take place due to drug or alcohol abuse is very tough. Not only does it affect you, but also your family and friends. Without professional help the chance of relapse is tremendous.

If you are looking for a facility that will provide guidance and professional treatment please contact us today. The staff at Miracles Recovery Center, located in Port St. Lucie, Florida, is ready to take your call and work with you or your loved one. It is never too late to begin the process of having and maintaining a sober life.

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