How Society Pays
The Neurochemistry of Addiction
Addiction: A Genetic Disease
Female Issues
Treatment for Addiction

Relapse: Sex, Love, and Relationships

The Addictive System

Progression of Addiction

Addiction and the Family

Progression of Addiction

Progression to Addiction chart

This slide is a graphic representation of how the disease of addiction progresses — from root causes to vulnerability to initiation —through all the shame and chaos — to the full blown state of addiction. Only by understanding this progression can you see how critical it is to seek help to break the cycle of addiction.

In the upper left corner is a house…and every addicted individual has been in that house…it's a figurative house…it could be the house you grew up in…the apartment you moved to when you moved away from parents…it could be your girl scout troop…it could be the house you moved into when you were married…it could be a series of houses…

In that house is a FAMILY…and in that family are GENES (heredity)…and in that family a TRAUMA occurs…and with that trauma you experience SHAME…and with that shame, you feel the need for COMFORT. Look where you go…to the roof or attic to experience comfort in isolation…but you're still in the house.

There comes a point when you leave the house. You get in the boat, leave, but you take with you the SHAME and with the shame you take the STRESS/COMFORT DICHOTOMY.

You traverse the river over time until at some point a CATALYTIC EVENT occurs — it could be the loss of a loved one, a breakup of a relationship, financial hardship, or getting a C in college…and you are INITIATED into the throes of addiction.

NUEROCHEMICAL CHANGES occur…the set point in your brain is different…you're getting positive reinforcement for negative events…negative reinforcement for positive events…you're getting inappropriate messages…

and everything you did to get HIGH… now you do just to get NORMAL…you're in the throes of addiction.

Ultimately, you fall out of the boat, but you don't know you're out of the boat…you're getting the wrong message… you're in the rapids drowning and you're waving… you think everything's okay…

SHAME continues to be with you and you go into a TRANCE because you can't deal with what's happening.

EMOTIONS are all over the place…you're numb.

You're experiencing CHAOS… literal chaos… maximal disorder in your life…

NEUROCHEMICAL IMBALANCE… it's out of control… you don't know what's right or wrong any more…you're getting the wrong message consistently…

ISOLATION… you want to go back to the house…you want comfort so you isolate to the max… it's just you and your addiction.

COMPULSION… you repeat the same behavior over and over and over again… why? Because that's the message you get.

You are totally OUT OF CONTROL… and ultimately you do things that you would normally never do…and you must face the CONSEQUENCES of this out-of-control behavior…

But, it all starts back at the house with the FAMILY and the GENES and the TRAUMA and the SHAME and the COMFORT… and we want to go back to the house to seek the comfort… in isolation.

Somehow… some way… every addicted individual must go back to the house to get well… not necessarily physically going back to the house where you were traumatized… but in treatment, with your therapist, you need to go back to that house. Failure to go back to that house will inevitably lead you to seek comfort in the attic of that house in isolation… and inevitably lead to relapse. Whatever happened in that house will always be with you unless you deal with it… you'll always be haunted by that house.

Timing is important. You have to be ready to go back to that house. It will be painful, but it's the only way to climb your stairway to recovery… and you can do it. You must want to get well badly enough to find treatment and stay engaged in continuing lifelong care to get well and avoid relapse.

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