The Addiction Cycle

Preoccupation: Fantasizing and obsessing about an addictive behavior in order to escape from reality. For some people this means planning on where they are going to get their next drink and how great it will be. For others it means hiding out to overeat or deciding to look at pornography after everyone has gone to bed.

Ritual: How a person prepares to act out. When a person is in their ritual they are slowing wearing down their own resolve to say no. An person’s ritual can last anywhere from a few minutes to days or even weeks. For example, someone addicted to pornography may be tempted to look at pornography and masturbate after getting yelled at by their boss. From that moment in their day they begin planning their opportunity to escape later that night. Throughout the day they may sexualize people and conversations or flirt with others to arouse themselves prepare to act out.

Compulsivity: When a person relieves their pain and stress by acting out their addictive desires. Compulsive acting out means that a person feels they can’t stop what they are doing. It is common for someone to rationalize their behavior while they are doing it because it feels good.

Despair: Despair occurs after the addictive behavior is over and reality set in. A person feels bad about themselves, guilty about what they have done, and then resolves to never do it again.

Bargaining: Guilt and shame may drive a person to swear they will never act out again. A person may swear off drinking. Others may swear to never look at pornography again or promise God that they will never mess up again.