The cycle is the same for all forms of addictive behaviors. The cycle, as we we have explored, is based or grounded in a profound sense of shame and self-loathing. The shame drives the individual to take action, or move away from the pain of these feelings. The behavior used to numb the feelings of pain is based in trauma and formulated or created early in a person's life.
Patrick Carnes, in the book, Out of the Shadows, explains this cycle. He states that, from the place of shame, an individual moves into impaired thinking, rationalization, or denial to justify his behaviors. The distorted thinking becomes automatic, like breathing. Addicts are often not aware of their justifying thoughts because the pattern has become embedded as their emotional coping mechanism. They tell themselves, "Just one more time. I am not hurting anyone. I deserve it." This rationalization gives them the green light to proceed with their behavior. Once they have given themselves permission, they will become preoccupied with the acting in or out.
This period of preoccupation creates the chemical infusion in the brain that brings great pleasure. Chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline are released. For some addicts, the thinking about, planning, and anticipation of the behavior is the most pleasurable part of the cycle. When they are in this state, they are in a trance; they feel no pain. They have literally created a chemical cocktail that is as addictive as any drug.