What the “Upward Spiral” Looks Like

upward downward spiralEarlier this month we discussed in this blog post what the downward spiral of addiction looks like, taking you through a cycle that involved repeated negative feelings and compulsive actions. It can be easy to see addiction as a downward spiral, where there appears to be no way out; but the good news is that it’s possible to break the cycle of addiction. In fact, you might imagine breaking the cycle of addiction as a kind of “upward spiral,” where the individual actively rewires the brain and engages in positive actions as they progress in recovery.

You might outline the upward spiral as four stages:

  • Feelings of connection (with others and self)
  • Acts of service and growth
  • Feelings of love and self-worth
  • Acts of disclosure

Feelings of connection

At this stage, a person feels a strong connection with the self and with others. This person does not feel a need to hide their identity or to change who they are for others. They are comfortable with who they are and have a strong sense of self-worth. These are feelings that you can cultivate as you navigate through the early stages of recovery from addiction.

Acts of service and growth

These feelings of connection can help a person feel as though they have a contribution to make—something to offer to the world, if you will. The person might engage in acts of service in order to help others, or they might engage in activities that will help them progress—activities like education, reading, practicing a new skill, exercise, or outdoor recreation. Ultimately these positive, healthy actions will lead to feelings of love and self-worth. In the context of addiction recovery, this means actively engaging yourself in wholesome activities that will pull you further and further away from substance use.

Feelings of love and self-worth

Positive actions that lead to progression (of the self, of others, or of a community) help cultivate and reinforce feelings of love and self-worth. These feelings help give a person a strong sense of confidence and comfort in their identity. These are essential feelings to cultivate as you navigate addiction recovery.

Acts of disclosure

A strong sense of self-worth will lead you to acts of disclosure, where you confidently and comfortably act out your identity in front of others. As a recovering addict, you might share your story with others, or you might attend group therapy meetings with the intention of connecting with others. These acts of disclosure will ultimately help you feel a stronger and deeper connection with yourself and others. And when you feel a strong connection with yourself and others, you are more likely to engage in positive behaviors (thus restarting the positive cycle).

This is one way you might understand the process of recovery from addiction. If you or a loved one is caught in the downward spiral of addiction, contact us today to break the cycle and move upward in life once again.