Understanding the Cycle of Recovery

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The cycle of addiction recovery is anything but straightforward. The addiction cycle and the recovery from it should be viewed as a lifelong journey that can be difficult and scary but ultimately rewarding as you progress to your final destination of a clean, sober, and happier life. If you or someone you care about is drinking excessively or suffering from a substance use disorder, contact the skilled medical team at Avedis Detox online or call 833.514.0579 today. The treatment team at our drug and alcohol detox center can discuss the cycle of addiction and how professional care can help along the way.

What Is The Cycle of Addiction?

The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines a substance use disorder as a chronic brain disease affecting your brain’s reward, pleasure, memory, and motivation. An addiction cycle does not develop immediately but rather over a period of time. Various factors, ranging from genetic factors to traumatic experiences, can affect your relationship with drugs and alcohol. Many people begin drinking or using drugs recreationally, but this experimentation can spiral into abuse and addiction. Briefly, the cycle of addiction flows in this direction:

  • Initial use
  • Abuse
  • Tolerance
  • Dependence
  • Addiction
  • Relapse

This cycle tends to repeat itself after a relapse, which is common during recovery, especially when trying to quit alone and without any support. However, all cycles can be broken. The medical professionals at Avedis Detox are experts at helping people like you escape the cycle of addiction and enter the cycle of addiction recovery.

Understanding The Cycle of Addiction Recovery

The cycle of addiction recovery commonly starts long before the user seeks help. The following stages help explain the cycle:


At this stage, the cycle of addiction recovery is effectively a non-starter. This is because you have not yet reached the point of accepting that you have an addiction. This may be because the substances and your behavior when using them haven’t caused you any adverse consequences. You may still be in the pre-contemplation phase of the addiction cycle because you remain in denial over your drug and alcohol use disorder and/or its severity.

During this early stage of the addiction recovery timeline, your addictive behavior may still seem fun and enjoyable because it has not yet led to any negative consequences. Therefore you are not interested in hearing talk of quitting.


You now realize that you have an addiction problem and are contemplating your next steps. You may even want to change at this still-early point in the cycle of addiction recovery, but you may doubt that you can commit fully to the detox, rehab, therapy, and recovery process. Thankfully, you are more receptive to hearing about the consequences of your behavior and the different options available for finding healing, peace, and sobriety. And yet, you are still only contemplating all this. This stage can last for years. Some never progress past this point. But you can and will, and with the help of Avedis Detox, you will have your best chance at finding success with a full recovery.


You are no longer only contemplating action to treat your addiction. You are now ready to meet with your doctor or another trained healthcare professional and have them assess where you are, what you need, and the most appropriate options for a drug and alcohol treatment plan.


It’s time to change your behavior and your life. For many people, the action stage of the cycle of addiction recovery will start with a medical detox, where medical professionals can monitor you and keep you safe and comfortable as you go through withdrawal. As the drugs leave your body and mind through detox, you will enter rehab to continue the path toward long-term recovery.

In this stage, you may engage in various activities to assist your recovery:

  • Detox
  • Withdrawal
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Holistic approach to your overall wellness
  • Nutrition education
  • Exercise therapy
  • Support groups
  • Skill-building to learn strategies for coping with stress and triggers

Maintenance & Relapse

Recovery is a process, and nowhere is this more evident than in the maintenance stage. You are adapting to a sober life, free of dependency on substances and chemicals. You are building positive momentum, making old habits less threatening and less likely to sneak up on you, but you are not out of the woods yet. Unfortunately, relapse is real and common sense. A substance use disorder is a chronic disease. You have been taught the skills and tools in the action stage necessary to avoid relapse, but a relapse may still occur. As a human, this is part of the cycle of addiction — it is not a sign of failure or weakness if you relapse. You can become sober again; it simply means more treatment is required. Thankfully, you have Avedis Detox in your corner throughout your journey.


A complete recovery is the ultimate goal during any cycle of addiction. Termination means you no longer feel threatened by the substance(s) at the root of your addiction. At this final step, you should feel confident and comfortable living your life free of harmful substances, and you fear to relapse less and less every day.

Learn More about Avedis Detox

Having a partner at every stage of the addiction recovery process can be the difference between success and failure. Contact us using our secure online form or call us confidentially at 833.514.0579 today to learn how Avedis Detox can be a vital part of your team as you break the cycle of addiction.

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