Addiction cycle

Disease of Addiction


9- Addiction Cycle


The diagram below illustrates how the disease of addiction affects both our mind and body. As chronic addicts, we get caught in a vicious cycle and are unable to break free on our own. Understanding addiction cycle will help us realize how this disease operates and why we need to look outside ourselves for a solution to recover.


1. Obsession develops

2. Insanity develops

3. Cravings develop

4. Tolerance develops

5. Experience hopelessness

6. Reach rock bottom

 The addiction cycle - Cycle of addiction

Note: this illustrations has used drugs as a way of example, you can replace it with your problematic substance or behavior to understand the vicious cycle of addiction.  


1st Obsession develops    

  • We experience intense reward & euphoria from using drugs
  • Drugs help us cope with stress & problems
  • We want to re-experience the first high again and again – obsession
  • We take more & more for to achieve the first high
  • Nothing brings us pleasure and relief except drugs
  • We lose interest in everything except finding and using drugs
  • Drugs become our number one priority in life
  • We neglect ourselves and others


2nd Insanity develops  

  • Drug abuse disrupts our brain’s communication system
  • Our thinking becomes distorted, illogical & abnormal – definition of Insanity
  • We cannot make logical judgments or rational decisions
  • We cannot distinguish between fantasy & reality – Denial
  • We use defence mechanisms to abuse drugs despite harmful consequences – i.e. justifications, rationalizations, manipulations, dishonesty, minimization, intellectualization, etc.
  • We develop extreme character traits such as:

Selfishness – want more & more to feel normal

Self-centredness – don’t care about anyone or anything except drugs

Grandiosity – I am better and smarter, I am different and special, and don’t need any help

  • Our insane ways of thinking leads to destructive behaviors and actions, i.e. crime, violence
  • Our life becomes more chaotic & unmanageable
  • We cannot rely on our thinking to make a right decision over our drug use
  • Self-reliance or our will power cannot help us


3rd Cravings develops                   

  • Drug abuse changes our brain’s function and structure
  • The way our brain nerve cells send, receive, and process information becomes abnormal
  • Our brain becomes physically activated to produce powerful urges to use drugs regardless of consequences – definition of Cravings
  • Slowly our brain becomes dependant on drugs to function normally
  • As a result, we engage in shameful behaviours to use drugs for our survival


4th Tolerance develops

  • Our brain adapts and builds tolerance towards unnatural chemicals / drugs
  • We need more drugs to experience feeling normal – definition of Tolerance
  • Our reaction towards drugs becomes abnormal – we take more despite harmful consequences- definition of Allergy
  • Slowly we lose our emotions, feelings and morals
  • Become prone to accidents or suicidal thoughts
  • We experience withdrawal symptoms if stop using drugs
  • We have now lost the power of choice and control over our drug use


5th Experience hopelessness

  • We are not aware we suffer from a disease
  • We believe we are bad & weak people
  • We feel shame, guilt and regret over our drug use
  • We are under the illusion we have power to control or stop our drug use – insanity
  • We make sincere resolutions and promises not to use again
  • We are always angry, restless and depressed
  • We don’t know how to cope with life without drugs
  • Our obsession with drugs is overwhelming
  • We are constantly craving more & more dugs
  • Our body needs drugs in order to function normally otherwise will experience withdrawals
  • We exercise will power and can stop for a while, but soon find ourselves using again
  • We cannot understand why we can stop- have no power over our drug use.


6th Reach rock bottom

  • This cycle is repeated over and over again until we reach rock bottom
  • Many of us end up in institutions and asylums
  • Many of us kill ourselves or die due to consequences of our addiction





Accept we are suffering from a disease

Accept we have no power over our drug use

Accept our life is unmanageable as a result of it

Accept defeat, we cannot help ourselves

Surrender and look for help outside ourselves

Join 12 Step Fellowships to find hope and support

Work the 12 Step as the solution for recovery from our addiction

Experience a new way of life without drugs

Live a life beyond our wildest dreams in freedom, peace and serenity

Question or Comment

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