The Cycle of Addiction 101: How to Get Help

Addiction preys on many people, and the best way to free yourself from its cycle is to ask for help. Learn about Lifewise’s addiction services and more.

At Lifewise, we offer addiction services and support because we understand that addiction is something people need help to conquer. Addiction is a cycle that feeds itself, degrading the mauri (life) of the addicted until the only thing that they focus on is continuing the cycle. The substance can be anything from alcohol and drugs, to gambling. Not only does this impact on their psychology and body, it also has a massively negative impact on their life, relationships with whanau, and financial circumstances.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, know that there is a way to get through this. There is a way to break the cycle, and in this blog post we’re going to look at how that works. Learn about the cycle of addiction; how it perpetuates, how it affects people, and how someone struggling with addiction can get help in New Zealand.

How the Cycle of Addiction Feeds Itself

Beginning from the very first exposure to an addictive substance, the cycle of addiction is set in motion, relying on both the psychological and physiological effects induced by the substance to keep going. Whether the person is taking the drug recreationally, medicinally, or as an escape from reality, it has the same effects. It’s important to remember that, at a certain point, the person addicted barely has any control over their substance use anymore. This is why we call addiction a “disease” – addicts are victims.

The “hit” that everyone talks about is actually a rush of dopamine—the “happiness” hormone—that is released by your brain’s reward pathway. Addictive substances are wired to activate this network, which is usually reserved for promoting healthy behaviours like sleeping or eating. Eventually, this reward pathway gets twisted around, pushing you to seek out more and more of the substance to get a “hit” of dopamine. It literally rewires your brain, and that’s why addiction can be so difficult to break free from without help.

In addition to rewiring your reward pathway, addictive substances also have a psychological impact. Some studies suggest that addicts crave the actual “craving” more than they crave the substance, as the fulfilment of this craving can feel far better than the hit from the substance itself. Either way, people in the throes of addiction have to detach from the psychological effects of the substance—the happiness, the release, the “high”—to prevent themselves from using again. Without help, this is very difficult.

Why You Should Get Help, and Where to Go

Getting help to beat an addiction is crucial, because having a support network through detoxing and recovery gives you a much better chance of remaining sober. While a lot of the mental work will be down to you, the health services professionals and supporters around you will do what they can to provide an environment that is easier to recover in.

Your brain rewires itself to crave an addictive substance, creating a very strong habit that can be very hard to break without outside help that can hold you accountable. If you’re not sure where to go for help, the good news is that there are many programmes in New Zealand that are dedicated to helping Kiwis get back on track. We even have one at Lifewise!

Te Ara Ora (The Pathway to Wellness) is our live-in addiction recovery program for adults. We work with everyone in the program to get to a stable stage of recovery, all the while helping them to plan their future. A part of our programme in Rotorua includes creating a taonga (treasure) from pounamu that residents can pass down, signifying their willingness to live life to the fullest. It’s a piece of cultural history, a connection to one’s wairua (spirit), and a milestone marker for their recovery journey.

Having a direction to go in once you leave rehabilitation is so helpful to remaining sober, and we at Lifewise provide all the support we can (in a home-like living situation) so that you can get there. Here are some other services to contact if you or someone you know is in need of addiction help:

  • Alcohol and Drug Helpline – 0800 787 797
  • Choice Not Chance Gambling Helpline – 0800 654 655

Choose to end the cycle of addiction. Step onto Te Ara Ora.

At Lifewise, we’re dedicated to helping our community in every way possible. From aiding people who need help with housing to providing addiction services and support, with a focus on whanau and family values. If you’re in need of help, or if you know someone who is, get in touch with us today and start on the road towards recovery.

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