What Is the Ritual Stage of Addiction?

What Is the Ritual Stage of Addiction?

The disease of addiction is both physical and psychological. It confuses both addicts and their loved ones who can’t understand why they keep repeating the same behaviors despite destructive consequences. Addiction recovery experts have identified the following stages in the process of addiction:

  • Stress, anxiety or pain
  • Fantasizing or fixating on a substance or behavior that will relieve this pain
  • Entering in a ritual or behavior that begins the destructive behavior
  • Engaging in the addictive behavior
  • Experiencing grief, shame, remorse or depression, which leads back to the first step

That third stage, or the “Ritual Stage,” is one of the most dangerous aspects of the cycle.

Recognizing the Ritual Stage of Addiction

Whether the addiction is to a behavior or drug, the stages of the addiction cycle are largely the same. During the ritual stage, addicts begin to move toward their habit; for instance, a compulsive gambler may visit a casino, say she won’t gamble, but move in that direction anyway. Whatever the specific issue, the ritual stage is when the addict enables her addiction. She says she will resist, but barring a radical intervention she will succumb to temptation. By the time the ritual stage begins, it is too late to avoid the oncoming destructive behavior, because the gears are already turning.

Overcoming the Ritual Stage of Addiction

The best way for addicts to avoid addictive behaviors is to avoid the ritual stage in the first place. This may sound simple enough, but it involves advanced planning and the help of others. The following steps can help a recovering addict avoid the ritual stage of addiction:

  • Address the underlying distress, anxiety or pain that triggers addiction
  • Communicate openly about thoughts, temptations and fantasies that drive addiction
  • As soon as you take a single step toward your addictive behavior, call a friend for help
  • Attend group recovery meetings to learn to cope with your cravings, which will also show you that you are not alone in this journey
  • Avoid issues that trigger your pain and anxiety
  • Fill your time with productive, rewarding and meaningful activities

If you seek professional help, you can learn to overcome the ritual stage of addiction.

Help Treating the Ritual Stage of Addiction

If you begin moving toward your addiction, or if you have already relapsed, then please call our toll-free helpline right now. Our counselors are standing by 24 hours a day to help you survive this problem and to connect you with the best recovery program for your specific needs. Don’t let drugs, alcohol or destructive behaviors lock you in a cycle of pain and abuse. You can break free and we can help, so call us right now.