The insidious cycle of addiction often starts with some life changing event that causes a person physical pain or emotional pain, an event that they cannot cope with or deal with. It may have started as a young child who did not fit in with their peers, anxiety over work, divorce or the death of a loved one. It’s also not unusual for it to happen due to chronic pain that cannot be treated properly. Whatever the reason, this is usually the beginning point where the problems start.
Often the person sees no hope for a solution and does not know how to get rid of the pain they are feeling. Many people experience problems in their life that cause them pain, but not all will turn to substance abuse as a solution. Some people have coping abilities that are stronger than others and they choose a different path to help them cope. Someone who is an addict will choose the easiest path and will abuse substances to help them cope with the situation.
In the beginning these substances will help them, and actually may appear to solve their problems. They feel OK and they think they are now able to cope with the curves that life has thrown at them. They then come to believe that this is solving their problems, and that with this crutch they are now able to deal with life’s problems. At this point the drugs or alcohol become a very valuable tool in helping them cope. This now becomes their solution for handling everything that comes their way – it seems the ultimate easy solution.
During this stage they feel that their pain can constantly be kept at bay, as long as they have these substances to help them cope. This is the beginning of a cycle of addiction that they normally will fail to recognize. They know one thing. If they are feeling pain, the drugs or alcohol will get rid of it. The problem with this is that it usually means that they will increase their use of these substances over time, not realizing that they are becoming mentally and physically addicted. They usually will not even recognize that they have passed a point of no return and that they have lost their ability to control this destructive habit.
When they do try to stop using these substances as a crutch they find that it’s no longer possible. Physically their bodies now need the substance. They may realize they are addicted and now know full well what going through withdrawal will be like, and it’s not something they want to face. Over time the addict finds they now need more of the substance they are abusing, since their body is constantly adjusting and the usual amount will no longer be effective. In many cases they now need the drug or alcohol in order to function in daily life.
They addict knows that they need to stop abusing the drug but they feel powerless. This causes more stress and anxiety as well as feelings of worthlessness, shame and guilt. Their cure for these feelings, is of course, to return to what helps to relieve them even though what is relieving the pain causes the feelings. They are now trapped in an endless cycle of addiction and they feel that there is no way out.