The Rubber Band Effect

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction

 

    The driving force behind the continuation of an addiction is what many psychiatrists call the ‘Shame Cycle’:

  

 

    The issue is that shame drives you back into your addiction. What happens in this addictive cycle is the following:

- You first give into your addiction (alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.)

 

- After you have given into those desires and when the pleasure, which is usually very intense, has gone away then you feel very ashamed of what you have done. Many times you feel like a dirty person and that no one could ever love you.

 

- In an attempt to have others love you, accept you and possibly forgive you, you open up and talk to someone about what you have done.

 

- Confessing what you have done brings a feeling of forgiveness and hope. You now feel as if you can change.

 

- With renewed determination you attempt to stop your addictive behavior. However, you only attempt this to a certain point. Because the lusts for your addiction still continue, you again feel like you can never change and you begin to feel that you can never quit, so you give into the addiction and repeat the addictive cycle.

    The answer to breaking this addictive cycle is by thinking of the addictive circle (Shame Cycle), shown above, as a rubber band. A non stretched rubber band will never break. Thus, the circle, or cycle, continues. Yet, in stretching a rubber band in an attempt to break it, puts stress on the rubber band. This stress must be endured in order to break the rubber band. In the same way, there is stress that must be endured in order to break the cycles of addiction in our lives as well.

 

1) An un-stretched rubber band has no stress being put upon it. It is a continuous circle (or cycle) that will never be broken:

 

2) As a rubber band is stretched a little bit it grows in length and undergoes an amount of stress relative to the amount that it is stretched. With this stretching the rubber band is still a continuous circle. However, the circle (or cycle) is longer.

 

Note: In relation to our addictions, the longer we hold out, or stretch ourselves into a longer cycle between the times that we relapse, the more stress we will experience in our lives. We need to deal with this stress in a sober state:

 

 

3) The more that a rubber band is stretched, the more stress it brings upon itself. Again, the rubber band is still a continuous circle; however the circle (or cycle) is even longer.

 

Note: Again with relation to our addictions, as we hold out longer (stretching ourselves into a longer cycle between the times that we relapse) and begin to deal with and experience things in our lives in a sober state, the more stress we will experience in our lives. We cannot give up, because we are training ourselves to know that we can ”live” life without giving into our addictions:

 

 

4) After a rubber band has been stretched to the point that it has endured its maximum amount of stress, it breaks. After the rubber band has broken, all of the stress of the stretching goes away and the circle (or cycle) is broken.

 

Note: With relation to our addictions, if we endure the stress of stretching ourselves into a longer cycle between the times that we relapse and appropriately, in a sober way, deal with and experience things in our lives we will know that we can live life without the need of our addiction. The cycle will be broken, because we won’t need to go back to our addictions: