Breaking the Cycle of Addiction: Addiction Stages, Triggers, and Treatment Options

Addiction is something a lot of families struggle with but don’t speak about. It’s time to change that. Do you or a loved one struggle with addiction? Learn how to identify the stages of addiction, and how to navigate the triggers that cause a relapse. Discover how treatment is possible to break the cycle of addiction today.

Initial Use

Initial use can begin in many ways. It can be as accidental as starting a new prescription drug to manage pain, through peer pressure to elicit an illegal drug, or even celebrating your 21st birthday. 

Regardless of how the initial use started, it is always the first step to addiction. 

Continuous Use

At this stage, the individual continues to use the substance. This can be for a number of reasons. Sometimes the continued use comes from taking a prescription to moderate pain or drinking in a “social” setting.

Substance use usually becomes more frequent or intense as time goes on. 


After continued abuse, addiction can begin to make changes in the brain resulting in tolerance. During this part of the addiction cycle, the typical amount of the substance doesn’t create the same mental or physical effects it used to.

As a result, the user will seek out a higher or stronger dose to recreate the mental or physical effects they’re looking for. This is the time in the addiction cycle where the dependence on the substance is created.


During this time the brain has made dependence on the substance. The brain can’t function properly without regular substance abuse. The symptoms of addiction will be most obvious.

The person may experience everything from substance cravings, to being unable to stop substance use from interrupting important life settings (i.e., work, family settings), to a decrease in previous social activities. 

How to Navigate Triggers

Triggers are social, environmental, and emotional that remind people of past drug use. It can be difficult to navigate these triggers when your first getting sober but it’s not impossible. 

The key to breaking the addiction cycle is to learn how to navigate these triggers. You can do this by creating healthier practices to replace the past habits that remind the individual about their substance abuse. 

Question your feelings and emotions in early sobriety to identify triggers. This reflection will help you better understand your addiction, therefore helping you stay sober.

How to Find Treatment  

One of the most difficult but effective ways to break an addiction is by being transparent in your sobriety. Transparency forces people to put an end to the patterns of denial and face the realities of addiction.

This transparency will make finding a treatment that works for you easier. Once you face the realities of your addiction, it enables them to seek out the help of a professional. 

The treatments in addiction therapies are designed to help you manage your substance abuse and reduce the chance of relapse. 

Check out our page for more insight on how to find addiction treatment today


Brockwell has served on the Communications Team at L.I.F.E. Recovery since 2000.

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