Addiction is so dangerous to the user because it is not just a simple disease, one which you can treat and cure and move on from, but a pattern of behavior that, through chemical and psychological dependence, can continue to attack, over and over again, even when an addict thinks they’ve moved past their addiction.
Addiction is often best portrayed as a cycle — one which can recur, repeatedly attacking, in the addict’s life even as they try to move beyond.
Again and again, the addict works to kick the habit and leave addiction behind, only to find the cycle returning to the beginning and back in the throes of their addiction all over again.
The cycle of addiction can be beaten, with help towards full recovery, but first the addict must recognize the cycle for what it is.
The cycle of addiction looks something like this:
It starts with the first use of an addictive substance, in what may seem an innocuous setting and a harmless, one-time use. But it doesn’t stop there, despite best intentions.
Once a person has tried the drug, they find themselves desiring more of it and start using it more frequently, until they are abusing it with overuse.
At this point, the developing addict is likely developing a tolerance to their drug of choice, meaning they are no longer getting the same “high” from the amount of substance they started with. To try and reach that level again, the addict will start taking more of the drug, and more still, seeking the “high” they remember and needing ever more of the substance to reach it as their body becomes accustomed to the substance.
As they take more and more of the drug, the addict finds themself soon utterly dependent on the drug, perhaps both physically and psychologically, unable to function in everyday life without regular use of the substance. Their behaviors start to change as they adapt their life around their substance abuse — they’re late for events or fail to make them, act aggressively or defensive over minor confrontations, are less dependable than they once were. Their substance abuse is starting to become the center of their life.
Finally, they’re in full-blown addiction, unable to focus on anything but their substance abuse and how to meet its demands.
At this point, they may seek help, may try to quit cold turkey. Usually, if they do this alone, this does not succeed. But if they do find some success, they will enter withdrawal, which can be horribly painful and mentally disturbing. Few can withstand it alone and will return to their drugs, resuming the cycle once more. And even those who do stop for a while, without a stable group of support, will often find themselves relapsing, missing the drug psychologically even if they’ve managed to shake its physical dependence for a time.
To truly break the cycle, the addict must find outside help, through family, friends and a good clinical rehab program, which can help them through the painful detox period and teach them methods to avoid and defeat their addiction once the physical need is put aside.