The cycle of addiction has been illustrated in many different forms, from a simple four stage format to much more in depth and extensive presentations. One particular layout, the eight step model, is extremely accurate in portraying the phases one might go through repeatedly before eventually finding recovery. The first step of this cycle is feeling frustration or some kind of mental anguish that leads to anxiety or depression which triggers a craving for drug use. This could be stemming from an underlying mental disorder or it could simply be situational. If a loved one dies, a relationship grows apart, or some other major life changing event occurs, it can lead to an addict starting this first step back into the perpetual cycle of drug addiction.
After psychological discomfort has frustrated the addict to the point of craving drugs, fantasizing about drug use occurs. This is the second step of addiction and the addict will consider the use of drugs and fantasize about using drugs. He or she will weigh out the pros and cons of such use and oftentimes will not speak openly about these thoughts.
Fantasizing about drug use will eventually evolve into the third stage of addiction, which is obsession. This is when the fantasies will grow in the addicts mind to the point where the thought is nearly constant. The obsessions of drug use may be accompanied by a sense of impending doom and the addict might simply come to terms with the idea of using again.
The fourth phase of the addiction cycle is the actual addictive activity. This varies depending on what addiction the addict is recovering from. For those that are addicted to drugs, drug use is the symptom of this phase.
This drug use tends to spiral out of the addict’s control. When control is lost and the addictive activity is running the addict’s life, the fifth step commences which is characterized by powerlessness over the activity. The addict will use drugs during inappropriate times and even when he or she doesn’t truly want to. An addict in this phase may feel completely incapable of abstaining for even a relatively small period of time.
After loss of control has been established, the addict is using drugs in a completely chaotic fashion. This leads to feelings of shame, guilt, or remorse which are the traits of the sixth step. The addict may feel very regretful about his or her decision to use drugs again and may also be too embarrassed to let anybody know about these insecurities. Self-image is negatively affected in this phase and a sense of dissatisfaction for life is also noted in most cases.
Once guilt has consumed the addict to the point of submission, the addict will begin to make resolutions to end the behavior. This may include promises to others or self that use will soon end. It may also consist of a vow to end drug use forever and possible disposal of drug paraphernalia. The drug use may abruptly end for a period of time and when a proper
recovery plan isn’t put into action the eighth step may occur, which starts the cycle all over again.
The eighth step is returning discomfort or mental anguish. This is almost identical to the first step and the addict will often forget the chain of events that occurred during the last relapse which may cause drug use fantasies to return. Mental pain is the main characteristic of this phase and unless the addict finds help one way or another, this cycle can repeat for the rest of their lives.