The Face of Addiction - Part 3

Steps to the Addiction Process

From the chart above, we can see how the cycle of addiction works. It is exactly that - a cycle. One step leads to the next which leads back to the beginning of the cycle, which by now is quite well known to the addict. Even though the negative emotions of pain, frustration, and anger are involved, the pattern is predictable and there is comfort in knowing what the next step will be. The addictive relationship can be trusted.

Addiction occurs in stages. The first stage develops internally (the Internal Change Stage). It begins with a mood change. Remember the chocolate bar example from Part 1? A person experiences a mood change from an object or an event. We are told in Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Rather than seeking relief from stress and pressing problems by going to God or at least one of the other natural relationships,the person begins to seek relief from their problems by turning to the object or event. Temporary relief is given to the addict and his mind is reinforced with the thought that this is the answer.

Following the Internal Change Stage, the addict enters the Negative Conversion Stage.In the beginning the pain gets masked by the pleasure of the addictive experience. Eventually the pleasure becomes intense enough that any pain can be fixed by the addictive process. Here is where a shift occurs, and could very well be the point of no return for addict - the pleasure from the mood change becomes more important. That is, the addict no longer needs pain to drive him to his addiction. He seeks his addiction simply for the supposed pleasure derived from it. Of course, in times of pain, the addict will seek his chosen object or event as well.

The Addiction Cycle

The Personality Splits

At this point, the addict develops a split between the two sides of their humanity, There is the side that believes in people and craves unity. There is the side that lacks trust and lusts for control. In short, a good and evil side begin to develop.

The Challenge

In no way do I take the psychological or the physical cravings in an addict's life for granted. These things are real and promote a real battle for the addict as he works through his addiction. I do not minimize this in any way, but Scripture gives us the answer to the dilemma of the personality split. I John 1:7 tells us, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." Again in Ephesians 5:11 we are told, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." I do not want to over-simplify the problem, but if we walk in the Light and avoid contact with the darkness, addiction will cease to exist.

The challenge is for these two sides to co-exist with the positive side winning out. The simple answer can be found in Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." However, in addiction the negative side is dominant.

The Self

At this point it is worthy to mention that giving in to sin is not necessarily addiction. Addiction is a repetitive behavior when left untreated increases in intensity and devotion to time. The addictive act is an act of self-betrayal in which self-respect and self-confidence start to diminish. As the self diminishes, the addict begins to feel more isolated from the self and others.The catch-22 is that the source of the addict’s emotional stability is also the source of his unmanagability.

Addictive Narcissism

As the addict acts out he comes up with a logic to rationalize his behavior. The person feels different in their addictive state. They begin to feel more confident; more in control because their trust has been completely given over to the addiction. This process is known as addictive narcissism. Addictive Narcissism flies in the face of such verses as Galatains 5:23 and Ephesians 5:18 which direct us to be meek and trusting God at all times.

Addictive Ritual

Addictive Ritual is the next step. The self (the good side) begins to fight the addict (evil side). The addict wins all major battles, with the self suffering an increasing loss of control. The more the self fights, the more pain is felt. More pain translates to more need to act out the addiction to kill the pain.

At this point the addict’s logic, beliefs, and values have become the primary person to interact with the outside world.The person begins to depend on the addictive personality as the object of their addiction.It structures the person’s personal belief system. In the late stages of addiction, self has all but been destroyed leaving behind a wasted life. The tragedy lies in the fact of what might have been.

We will continue with Part 4 shortly. Until then keep on keeping on!

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Comments 14 comments

mylindaelliott profile image

mylindaelliott 3 years ago from Louisiana

I really enjoy these. I'm interested to get to the solutions part too.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

Well, maybe some healing and understanding are coming to me as I read these. I have only four years (I realize every day of sobriety is significant) and there is always more to learn and grow in order to heal. Thanks for these Bill. When you first started this series I was thinking this would be good information for others and that I would be reading it on an intellectual, impersonal level. Not so. It's like you've taken (or perhaps it is God) is taking a scalpel to me and peeling back the surface and revealing some stuff I was unaware of. Peace, brother, and thanks.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Addiction as sin seems to be no big ones or little ones. Of course some are more apt to kill never giving one a chance to be released and find freedom in God, but even the little ones can kill eventually, just more drawn out. It is making these addictions our gods to have foremost in our minds.

Up/sharing/always.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Good morning mylindaelliott,

I'm glad you're getting something out of these. There are solutions, and we'll get to them, but I won't say it's easy. Thanks for your continued support.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

LS,

I do hope these are a help to you. My wife has been through much abuse in her life, but still struggles with the memories (perhaps flashbacks). Seeing her suffer at times can be painful for me, but the healing process has started. Life leaves scars, but Heaven's coming!


lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Yes Jackie,

Some do have different results, but all are a replacement for those natural relationships, no matter how small they may seem. Even our attitudes and emotions can be addictive. And addiction it can happen so easily.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

"Simply for the supposed pleasure." That's so scary. Here we go giving our lives away in an activity we choose which offers no benefit, no pleasure. Thank you for dealing with this topic in such detail and clarity.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

You're quite welcome MsDora. Addiction is indeed scary - not just for the addict, but for those close to him/her. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and visit!


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

An interesting hub and you deal with the issue so clearly.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Blossoms -

Glad you found it interesting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

I'm glad you shared that about your wife. I have been through hell and back in much the same way as her. I'm doing well at the moment, finding I am more resilient. You tell her I will be praying for her regularly. God can deliver, but it's often a long process.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Hi LS,

God is good and gets us through the good, the bad, AND the ugly. He is faithful - and you're proof!


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 3 years ago from Southern Minnesota

This vicious cycle you describe can be quite maddening until it is understood how it works. Someone I love deeply is sucked into the spin of an addiction right now and everything circulates around the justifications and arguments to stay stuck in it and maintain their ability to use. Prayer is my strategy on this one. No argument or human reasoning can penetrate this evil cycle. Praying for His light to penetrate the darkness and the lies.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Prayer is the only weapon we have TJ. It's also the only weapon we need. After fighting through addiction years ago, I know all too well the "old cycle". I'm praying with you on this one.

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