THREE CYCLES AND STAGES OF ANY ADDICTION

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright 1997

There are three basic stages in any addictive process. First, there is a change in the thought process. Second, there is a change in how people deal with life's ups and downs and relationships with others. Third, their lives and their physical and mental well-being erodes to the point where there is no control. As a result suicide may become a viable way out of their problems.

 

Understanding The Addictive Cycle

First - The Emotional Addiction

The person feels the need for emotional or social comfort or excitement, and uses something unhealthily to gain these needs.  The person feels better for a time as this act has filled the need, but when the person gets in an uncomfortable situation or wants stimulation, s/he unthinkingly connects relief with the act.

Second The Mental Addiction

Over a relatively short time, the act is equate with fulfillment of the need and the person becomes mentally hooked.  S/He needs to commit this act to cope with  his/her emotions.  Even the smallest visual, emotional, or olfactory cues associated with the act unconsciously reminds the person of comfort or the needed excitement and s/he becomes uncomfortable because s/he is not getting that comfort or excitement.

In many addictions the person is hooked again, because s/he has collected people around him/her as friends who also like to participate in this act.  Often, to fit in socially, s/he needs to commit the act, as it is what they do when they get together.  

Third The Physical Addiction

The act becomes a physical or mental necessity as the body or mind becomes addicted to the act.  Overtime the body gains a tolerance to the act and need more stimulation.  In such addiction where the act was originally used as a comfort or a coping tool to alleviate emotional or social discomfort, like in the addiction of drugs, alcohol, work or food,. tolerance is overcome by performing the act more often.

To over come tolerance in an addictions where excitement is the stimulus, such as in pornography, acts of vandalism, pyromania, or dare-devil stunts the person needs usually choose to perform a similar act that will provide a greater adrenaline rush.

Tolerance happens because the body or mind becomes used to the smaller dosages or occurrences of the act and needs more to get the same relief or high.

The addict feels emotional pain and guilt because of the performance of the act because s/he cannot control the continual need to do the act.  Plus, depending on the addiction, there is the physical and/or emotional pain that results from withdrawal symptoms, because of the lack of the act..

The whole process begins again because the person seeks relief from the pain and guilt by committing the act. 

First Stage of Addiction

Change in the Thought Process

         The individual finds that performing the act makes them feel good or excites them.

         They do the act  instead of dealing with their problems or finding a healthy way to gain the excitement they want..

         The addictive cycle begins.

         The addictive self takes over.

         S/He substitutes addictive logic to explain illogical actions.

         When the normal self tries to point out flaws in the addictive logic, the addictive self points out the pleasurable aspects of the addiction.

Second Stage of Addiction

Change in Dealing with Life and Others

         Questions about the addict's logic is perceived as an attack on himself/herself.

         The addict practices objectification (The regarding or usage of others as objects to get the addict what s/he needs.) and can't understand why others get upset.

         The addict feels righteous indignation and withdrawals further from others.

         The normal self watches as loved ones are hurt and pushed away.

         The normal self feels ashamed. To cope, he/she blames others.

         The addicted person is labeled as a problem and becomes the scapegoat for most of the problems which takes place.

         The more the addict acts out (uses tobacco) the more isolated s/he becomes.

         The addict gains a tolerance to the chemicals now controlling mood or the adrenaline rush s/he gets from performing the act.  The person must perform the act more, or for adrenaline rush addictions a similar act must be performed to create more of a rush, to get the same high get or in chemical addictions; to be normal in mood, otherwise s/he is depressed.

         The addict acts out more frequently and perhaps dangerously.  Often the act leads the person in to illegal activities or taboo activities.

         Due to shame and denial of one's loss of control, the addict's becomes more secretive.

         The addictive self would rather tell a lie than the truth, even when there is no reason to lie.

Third and Final Stage of Addiction

Physical and Mental Breakdown

         The pain from loneliness, shame, and anger are almost continual.

         Performance of the act doesn't cover the pain, any more, it only adds more pain.

         When the act no longer eases the pain, the addictive logic breaks down.

         The pressure of stored feelings mounts up. It causes emotional and/or physical breakdown.

         The normal self dreads each new day.

         Stopping the addictive cycle causes physical withdrawal and a grieving process for the lost relationship with the act.

         There are only two ways out of this stage of the addiction - intervention or suicide.

         Most addicts are stopped though intervention of help from friends or loved ones or by the legal system.

         The chances of recovery are good if there is a total commitment by the addict and a complete lifestyle change.

         Without intervention, the tormented normal self decides to put a stop to it all and commits suicide.

It is because of these cycles and stages a person can go from:

        Reading a Playboy to sexual assault and/or murder.

        Beating in mailboxes to blowing up office buildings.

        Working a 8 to 5 job to working constantly and loosing all associations and ties to others.

As with most addictions it is placing the first bet, or taking the first drink or hit that leads to the loss of everything that was once important to the person.  Everything, including family, home, and God.

THE ONLY PERMANENT WAY OUT OF AN ADDICTION IS TO:

1. Admit you need help from your God and ask for His help.

2. Do your part to succeed.

         Make God your partner, through continual prayer.

         Often this means you will need the advice or care of a professional.

         You may need the help of a support group.

3. Realize changes takes time to made.

If you are willing

to work and ask for help,

the Lord will help you change,

and you will succeed!

 

References

Nakken, C. (1988). The Addictive Personality. Hazelden Foundation: U.S.

Nay, A (1996) A Wholistic Approach to the Control of Addiction.

Sheppard, K. (1989). Food Addiction. Heath Communication, Inc.: FL.

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Annette Nay Homepage


     
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