Mental Health: 8 Effective Strategies To Break The Addiction Cycle

An addictive behavior starts as fun and pleasing. But consistently engaging in such behavior leads to enslavement due to the loss of willpower to control yourself from doing it. When this happens, the addict feels stressed and frustrated because they can’t control their urges despite possible harmful repercussions. This is a situation many people today across the globe suffer from but are finding it challenging to break free from the cycle.

Drug Addiction

Drug Addiction

However, all hope isn’t lost as there are still effective strategies that can help you break yourself free from the shackles of addiction. This way, you’ll get to start a new life where you lead a healthy emotional and physical lifestyle. Without further ado, this article would discuss the methods to help you free yourself from any addiction.

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What’s An Addiction Cycle?

The addiction cycle happens when a person can’t stop a particular habit no matter how hard they try. This addiction can either be to alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, or certain behaviors such as gambling, sporadic shopping, and watching pornographic content. When in an addiction cycle, a person feels enslaved because they can’t stop even if they want to.

Addictive behaviors lead to an addiction cycle by artificially stimulating dopamine production, often called the ‘feel-good hormone.’ Once this happens for a prolonged period, the brain gets used to the high dopamine levels in your body. When this takes place, the person feels temporary relief from their pain and suffering.

However, this feeling is later followed by guilt and dissatisfaction. So, when the dopamine levels drop, the previous issues you had such as anxiety, stress, fear, or resentment start resurfacing. This prompts the individual to engage in that addictive behavior to restore dopamine levels. The key elements that constitute an addiction cycle include:

  • Craving
  • Seeking the craving
  • Involving with the craving
  • Momentary fulfillment
  • Regret
  • Withdrawal

Fortunately, rehab centers such as and others can help you break free from the addiction cycle, but this would most likely require you to build a support system of friends, family, or any other groups to help you out. This will help you beat not only the addictive behavior but also enjoy a boost in your self-confidence and esteem.

What Strategies Can Help You Break The Addictive Cycle?

Breaking an addiction cycle is a lifelong process and something you must always partake in to safeguard your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Here are some techniques you should incorporate into your daily routine to shake off the craving of engaging in a particular addictive behavior:

  1. Keep Yourself Busy

One of the first challenges you’ll face when trying to stop an addiction cycle is blocking out the thoughts of engaging in addictive behavior. However, preventing this is challenging because doing so ironically brings back the thoughts of the addictive behavior, thereby increasing the chances of a relapse. The best thing to stop your mind from thinking about the addictive is keeping yourself busy. With your brain preoccupied, it’ll be a lot simpler to keep your mind off your craving.

Examples of activities that can help you keep yourself preoccupied include reading a book, watching the TV, taking a walk, or talking to a friend. Such activities help distract your brain from thinking of the addictive behavior or possible triggers, preventing a relapse.

  1. Identify Your Triggers

Another strategy that can best help you avoid relapsing is identifying triggers that might stimulate you to engage in addictive behavior. However, this isn’t as straightforward as it sounds because a trigger can be anything. This includes your marriage, a stressful job, social situations, certain people or places that cause you to crave engaging in that addictive behavior, and others.

Once you’ve identified your trigger, you’ll be able to avoid those situations and persons that might propel you back into your addictive behavior. If you can’t completely avoid the trigger, for instance, your stressful marriage, consider going for couple’s counseling to resolve the underlying issues. Ignoring this will only result in you relapsing into the addiction cycle.

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  1. Set Attainable Goals And Observe Them

Quitting an addictive behavior is quite stressful, but you can ease all this by setting reasonable goals that help you from relapsing. For optimal effectiveness of these goals, you need to set a particular timeframe within which you should need to achieve them. In addition, ensure to write these goals, which need to be definite and measurable to motivate you to quit an addictive habit and boost your confidence.

A helpful tip when setting goals is not to concentrate on broad and large-scale goals. This is a common mistake made by many recovering addicts, thereby making it a lot harder to break free from the addiction cycle. Instead, you should create specific and short-term goals that are more achievable such as avoiding an addictive habit for a week. Doing this helps motivate you and be more driven towards addressing your addiction problem.

After successfully achieving the short-term goals, you can go ahead and create long-term goals such as:

  • Get promoted at work within a year or two by being proactive or always going the extra mile.
  • Create healthier relationships that consist of supportive friends and family.
  • Go for a vacation to your dream holiday destination if you refrain from your addictive behavior for one year.

Treating yourself for successfully not giving in to your cravings makes you feel a sense of fulfillment. This provides you with added motivation to make sure you never relapse. But this wouldn’t have been achievable without combining both the short-term and long-term goals.

  1. Practice Meditation

The world’s hectic and frantic nature can make you feel extremely anxious and stressed. This increases your blood pressure and lowers your immune system. Also, this increases the chances of relapsing into your addictive behavior. Luckily, there’s a better way of coping with your daily struggles through meditation, an ancient practice that helps your mind feel calm and relaxed even during traumatic times.

Meditation effectively breaks your addiction cycle because it reinforces cognitive behavioral therapy that helps you shake off an addictive behavior. It does this by stimulating you to live in the moment rather than worrying about the problems you’ll need to deal with later. This helps you feel less tense and anxious, thereby reducing the possibility of relapsing back into your addictive behavior. It’s because of its effectiveness that this ancient practice has readily been accepted by many people across the globe to make them feel happier and relaxed.

Read Also: NIH: Combination Treatment May Help People with Methamphetamine Addiction

  1. Get A Support System

No matter how strong your willpower is, it’s easy to relapse into an addiction cycle if you don’t have a support system. And because it’s hard to recover by yourself from an addiction, you should consider getting help in this journey where you’re trying to recover from specific addictive behavior.

Luckily, there are many options to get the needed support from people willing to help you cope with your troubles in quitting a particular addiction. For instance, you can attend a self-help group such as Twelve-step programs to get a chance to interact with other persons going through addiction problems. Through these interactions, you’ll not only get to deal with your fear but also start feeling good about yourself. Another option would be attending a substance treatment program such as a drug and alcohol treatment center.

By having a support system, you’ll feel more motivated to deal with your addictive behavior than if you’re dealing with it alone. This will further help you stick to your goal of completely avoiding going back into an addiction cycle.

  1. Substitute Behaviors

Certain behaviors trigger and lead you to engage in a particular addictive behavior. You need to substitute such behaviors with positive habits that help you remain calm and prevent spiraling back into the addiction cycle.

Some of the best and most effective behavioral substitutes that can help ward off the triggers include:

  • Read books that share insights on how best to beat your addiction from experiences shared by professionals and other recovering addicts. This habit also helps improve your problem-solving skills as well as guides you in creating both short-term and long-term goals.
  • Exercise regularly as this helps you feel less tense, anxious, and stressed, which often causes recovering addicts to replace into their addiction cycle. Working out also helps reduce the chances of developing health complications such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. In addition, it boosts your mental and physical health. Some great workouts you should consider are cycling, jogging, or going to the gym.
  • Take up a hobby such as painting, writing, journaling, woodworking, photography, or gardening. Keeping your mind engaged with any of these activities offers you a means to express your feelings either figuratively or literally. As a result, this helps boost your mindset and mood, which is vital when recovering from an addiction.
  • Your diet affects your overall health, so you need to shift to eating wholesome and healthy meals to break free from addictive behavior effectively. This means sticking to a diet that helps ignore cravings and balance your body’s hormone levels.
  • As a recovering addict, you shouldn’t focus too much on how you’re recovering from addiction, but it’d be best to give back to the community by volunteering. This will ensure you’re always engaged and allow you to meet other persons who are having a harder time struggling with addiction. As a result, you become more motivated in your achievement to stay clean. You also feel less frustrated, thus reducing the chances of falling back into the addiction cycle.

You should try and incorporate one or a couple of these substitute behaviors, which will help you completely break the cycle.

  1. Be Ready To Deal With The Craving

Just because you’ve decided to break the addiction cycle doesn’t mean that the cravings and urges occasionally won’t appear. This is a fact you should accept and instead prepare yourself to fight off these cravings and urges regardless of how overwhelming they might feel. You can best accomplish this by becoming more aware of your addiction and resisting the temptation of falling back into addictive behavior.

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Typically, these urges will die down after 10 to 15 minutes, so you should train yourself to be strong and steadfast to your goal of breaking the addiction cycle. You also must be ready to deal with your cravings because you’ll find yourself in a situation that might trigger your urges at some point. Therefore, you need always to be alert when your determination, commitment, and willpower get tested while in such situations.

  1. Find Someone To Hold You Accountable

Having an accountability partner helps boost your workplace productivity by helping you beat procrastinating on your tasks. This same principle can be applied when trying to break an addiction cycle by finding a partner who helps you keep off from the addictive behavior. The partner you choose should be someone you trust and respect—it can either be a family member or friend. And any time you come across a trigger or experience the urge to engage in the addictive behavior, you can contact them to get the needed support and advice.

Because relapse is an expected process when recovering from an addiction, you shouldn’t feel ashamed or guilty about having an accountability partner. You also should communicate with your accountability partner once or twice a week, even when not experiencing any temptations to relapse. It’ll be a lot simpler to conquer your addiction with such a support system.


The period it takes to break an addiction cycle varies from one individual to another. But doing this isn’t always a guarantee as you may stop the addictive behavior for a while, be it weeks or months, only for a trigger such as emotional pain, stress, or anxiety to start the addiction cycle again. If you want to avoid these relapses, you need to learn effective ways that can help you quit the addictive behavior for good. This guide has detailed strategies to successfully break an addiction cycle. Consider the ideas mentioned here as you plan and prepare.

Read Also: Scientists Uncover Neuronal Mechanism Involved in Motivation


National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Principles of Drug Addiction: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2023). SAMHSA – The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration.



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