How do I break the cycle of addiction in my life?

by Ned Wicker
(Wisconsin)

This is a huge question.

The most important thing is to understand that you have a problem, which is the first of the AA 12-Step process for breaking the addiction and failure. You have come to admit that you are powerless over your addiction and that your life is out of control.

This is important because people want to believe that they can solve their own problems and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. If you are like most people, this fighting spirit doesn’t work with addiction.

Addiction can only be CONTROLLED not cured

It’s important to know that addiction can not be cured, it can only be controlled. Once the substance is out of your system, and once the medical aspects of your addiction have been addressed, there is still a management issue.

That’s where treatment programs come into play, because treatment is designed to equip addicts how to manage their behavior. Because of this relapse is usually common when you’re trying to break the addiction and failure. Expect relapse but don’t give up because of it!

Need to really know yourself

Self awareness is an important component here. People use for a variety of reasons, but mostly to either feel better or to party. Addicts need to feel better. They need the drug just to get by.

What is missing, what are the voids in their lives that create the urge to seek the drug as a solution? Even after they have gone through detoxification, there is still that pattern of behavior to deal with.

AA offers insight.

The second step to break the addiction and failure says that:

“we came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

That’s the key to breaking the addiction cycle. We are not able to control our behavior and we know we need outside help.

For theists, that power is God, however they understand God. For atheists, that power has to come from something else. If there is no power greater than one’s self, perhaps the power is an intellectual construct, a principle, a power that comes just from believing in something.

We are all body, mind and spirit. However you define that greater power, it is something that affects the spirit.

Important questions need to be asked:

How do I experience myself?

How do I experience others?

How do I experience the world?

How do I experience the relationship I have with that higher power?


The individual answers to these questions give insight into the voids in our lives. Understanding the voids and allowing those voids to be filled with something other than the drug, is how the cycle is broken. The power comes from outside of us, much like an electronic device needs to be plugged into the wall to function.

The Third Step in breaking the addiction and failure

The third step is surrendering to that power. Coming from a Judeo-Christian background, this writer believes that man was made in the image of God, who is spirit. The power greater than ourselves is that God who connects with our spirit.

But there are so many different understandings of God, which is why “as we understood him” in that third step is so important. The theology is very diverse and this is not the place to discuss all of the differences.

The cycle is broken when our lives are no longer controlled by the drug, with the understanding that any subsequent use of the drug might trigger the whole cycle again. We need to stay “plugged in” to that outside power source.

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and Finally Remember:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
- Matthew 7:7-8


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