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Breaking the Cycle: How Therapy Can Help with Addictive Behaviors

Addiction and substance abuse are common problems across the USA. According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 59 million people aged 12 years and above consumed illicit drugs. 

This substance abuse can be fatal. In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that over 100,000 people died due to drug overdose, according to the data report, with the 12-month ending period in August 2022.

While people know about the dangers, the thing is that addictive behaviors can be challenging to break. But therapy can be a powerful tool to help individuals struggling with these issues.

Therapy can provide a safe and supportive environment to explore the underlying causes of addiction and develop healthy coping strategies. This article will discuss how therapy can break the cycle of addiction, providing an opportunity for individuals to take control of their lives and find a healthier path forward.

The Addictive Cycle

The addictive cycle refers to the pattern of behavior that characterizes addiction. It typically involves four stages:

  • Preoccupation/anticipation
  • Binge/intoxication
  • Withdrawal/negative affect
  • Desperation

During the preoccupation/anticipation stage, the individual becomes fixated on obtaining and using the substance or engaging in the behavior. In the binge/intoxication stage, the individual indulges in the substance or behavior.

During the withdrawal/negative effect stage, the individual experiences negative consequences due to their use and may feel physical or psychological discomfort. Finally, in desperation, the individual may feel a strong urge to repeat the cycle, despite the negative consequences.

Understand What Triggers Their Addictive Behaviors

Therapy can be a powerful tool for those struggling with addiction. Through therapy, individuals can gain insight into their addictive behaviors and the underlying triggers that cause them. By understanding the root causes of their addiction, individuals can learn to recognize and manage their triggers healthily.

Therapy can also provide individuals with the skills and support needed to cope with their addiction and make positive life changes. With the help of a trained therapist, individuals can learn to identify and manage their triggers, develop healthier coping strategies, and create a plan for long-term recovery.

However, it all depends on finding the right therapist. When finding a therapist, look for someone with experience and expertise in treating addictive behaviors. Additionally, go with a local therapist. 

This will ensure that you can meet the therapist whenever needed. For instance, if you live in Texas, a Texas therapist will be more accessible than a South Carolina or West Virginia therapist. Hence, you must find a Texas therapist to help you understand and cope with addictive behavior triggers.

Better Regulate Your Feelings and Behaviors

The first step in changing your behavior is to identify what you’re doing that’s causing your issues. Therapy can help by giving you a safe space to talk about what’s going on in your life and how it affects you. A therapist will provide you with tools to better regulate your emotions, which can help reduce impulsive behaviors and make healthier choices. For example:

  • If a person experiences anxiety when they’re alone, therapy may teach them coping mechanisms so they can be more productive during these times instead of turning to drugs or alcohol as an escape from their feelings.
  • Similarly, suppose someone has trouble controlling anger toward others. In that case, therapy may help them recognize when anger is building and allow them some time for reflection before reacting so strongly.
  • Stress is considered to be a trigger for addiction. According to the CDC, 13% of Americans started or increased substance intake to cope with stress or emotions. Therapy can help you cope with stress through conversations, mindfulness, and other practices.

Work Toward Being More Comfortable and Accepting of Who They Are

Therapy can help you understand your present. It can also help you understand and accept yourself, which is a key component of recovery. People struggling with addiction often have a lot of shame, guilt, and confusion about their behavior.

By helping individuals accept themselves, therapists provide them with the tools they need to cope with their feelings in healthier ways. As someone works through these feelings in therapy sessions, they might no longer feel ashamed or guilty about their past actions or behaviors. Instead, they can see those actions objectively without judging them from other perspectives or feeling bad about them.

As people begin to accept themselves more fully and learn how to live according to their values rather than the demands placed upon them by others, they’ll be able to move forward into healthy patterns without looking back at past mistakes constantly.

This can also boost self-esteem, which is vital for mental health. According to a study published in the American Psychological Association PsycNet Journal, self-esteem can be beneficial in many ways, one of them being improved mental and physical health.

Discover Healthier Ways to Cope With Triggers, Cravings, and Conflict

Therapy can help you develop new ways to cope with triggers, cravings, and conflict. When people are first learning how to deal with their addictive behaviors, they sometimes rely on the same strategies over and over again. 

Suppose you’re noticing a pattern of adverse reactions that don’t seem helpful or healthy for you in the long run, such as yelling at your partner when he asks about your drinking habits. In that case, therapy will give you tools for finding healthier ways of dealing with those situations.

Therapy can also help people learn healthier ways of coping with stress. Stress triggers many addictive behaviors, so it’s essential to understand what causes these feelings and how they affect your overall health. In therapy sessions, therapists will teach individuals skills they can use when stressful situations strike so they don’t feel tempted by unhealthy methods of handling them later on down the road.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a form of psychological therapy that encourages people to focus on the present moment. Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your feelings and emotions, thoughts and actions, and body. It can also help you learn how to deal with difficult experiences in healthy ways, like talking about them or walking away from them.

Mindfulness is a beneficial skill for people who struggle with addictive behaviors because it allows them to be more aware of when they are engaging in addictive behavior. Several studies have proven the benefit of mindfulness for mental health.

For example, a study published in the ScienceDaily Journal analyzed the benefit of mindfulness on mental health with the help of over 11,600 participants. The study concludes that mindfulness can help cope with stress, anxiety, and depression, all of which are triggers for addictive behavior.


If you’re struggling with addictive behavior, therapy can help. It can help you understand why you have the behavior and offer different ways to cope. Therapy can also give you tools for mindfulness and self-acceptance so that when temptation strikes, you don’t succumb without giving yourself a chance first.

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