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How to Break the Cycle of Drug Addiction

Misunderstanding drug addiction is a common occurrence. From initial use to dependence and recovery to potential relapse, the condition of certain individuals will evolve rapidly, while for others it will take years to progress. However, it’s a process that may be halted. Discover how to break the cycle of drug addiction with these six steps for substance use disorders.

Table of contents

1. What Is the Cycle of Addiction?
2. Recognize the Problem
3. Identify Your Day-to-Day Habits
4. Do Activities You Enjoy
5. Exercise, Eat and Sleep Well
6. Set Goals and Focus on Your Dreams

What Is the Cycle of Addiction?

As the process varies for each person, every cycle of addition is different, but the sequence remains similar, with shared common factors. As the American Society of Addiction Medicine outlines, the main stages of addiction and substance use and abuse are as follows: 

  • Initial use: when you first trial the alcohol, drug or substance, the first experience
  • Abuse: when the use becomes recurring, frequent or when it affects you and your daily life in a harmful way
  • Tolerance: when you develop acceptance, increasing the dosage as the brain modifies its processing of the substance with each consumption
  • Dependence: when a need, a subservience to the drug appears and flourishes
  • Addiction: when the drug or alcohol becomes a compulsive habit that you can’t stop or control or becomes a way to avoid dealing with a problem – read this article to better understand what addiction feels like for some people
  • Relapse: within the recovery process, when there is a setback in sobriety after an improvement period

These subsequent 6 tips and steps will help break the addictive cycle of addiction:

Recognize the Problem

Breaking a habit in such a vicious circle or learning to cope with your addiction is impossible if the problem isn’t first accepted as one. To challenge addictive behaviour, you must first recognize the problem. Admitting it exists and facing it while admitting what difficulties arise because of them remains required before you can begin to fight. 


Identify Your Day-to-Day Habits

Emotional triggers can cause you to use drugs or drink alcohol and they may be conscious or even unconscious prompts. Is it the craving you feel or the ritual that comes with consumption that nurtures your habit? Initial identification of your day-to-day habits is key to changing them.

For example, you may be surrounded by certain people who encourage you to use drugs or have certain rituals that are part of your drug abuse. Do you only ever use drugs in certain very particular situations like when you are alone? Maybe you have started to hide your drugs in various places. By naming your patterns and habits and recognizing them, you’ll move forward in breaking the addictive cycle.


Do Activities You Enjoy

Daily free time, days off or even the holidays can be difficult times when coping with addiction. What do you enjoy doing outside of your addiction treatment? Engage in activities you enjoy, take up new hobbies and focus on small relaxation moments throughout your day. 

Group activities or organized happenings enable you to share things with different people outside of your usual circle. They may even foster new, sane rituals and patterns. Integrating things you like to do into your schedule will help you work towards your general well-being.


Exercise, Eat and Sleep Well

You’ve started doing new activities or picking back up old hobbies, but your mental health and physical welfare also benefit from exercise and efficient nutrition and sleep. 

If you love going to the gym, then do so, but exercising doesn’t necessarily mean bodybuilding. It’s a healthy mix of conscious choices. First, get back in touch with what helps you relax or find new ways to turn off the hamster wheel. What’s that method that leaves you replenished? Is it striking the lotus pose with yoga in the park or meditation through an app on your phone? 

It can be as simple as stretching efficiently in the morning or during little breaks throughout a stressful day, or even going for a short walk. Learn to breathe in and out deeply for a few seconds at a time while focusing on what’s going on inside your body and mind. Be present. 

Eating well and sleeping better should also be part of your new routine. Try new foods or recipes to make eating healthy pleasurable and pay more attention to your sleep cycle to start the day refreshed! Examine how you feel at different moments throughout the day to determine how going to bed earlier or later can affect your mood and energy level. You may discover that you’re not such an early riser after all!


Set Goals and Focus on Your Dreams

Think long term! Focus on setting goals for yourself weeks, months and years ahead of time. What would you enjoy during the next chapter of your life? What are you striving for? Where would you like to be 2, 5, 10, 20 years from now? 

What are you working towards in maintaining your long-term sobriety? Stay motivated to make sure you don’t fall back in the cycle of addiction. Keep your old habits away and celebrate your achievements!


Find Support

You don’t need to break the cycle of addiction alone. Find support within treatment programs like those of the Canadian Centre for Addictions. Our non-clinical addiction rehabilitation and wellness programs help residents and outpatients alike. 

Choose from rehab, detox, mental health support, dual diagnosis, healthy coping mechanisms, lifetime aftercare and a multitude of services tailored to your needs. Call us at 1-855-939-1009 to learn more about how to break the cycle of drug addiction.