Addiction and the adaptive cycle: A new focus hassan

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Authors: J.M. Randle, M.L. Stroink, C. H. Nelson

Publication Year: 2014


Categories: Innovation, Adaptive Cycle


This paper explores addiction through the lens of complex adaptive systems theory, as an emergent, non-linear phenomenon that undergoes cyclical patterns of stability and change. Particularly, an addiction is a behavioural pattern that emerges through the dynamic interactions of numerous variables operating both within the individual and in the environment. Furthermore, we argue that an addiction moves through the four phases of the adaptive cycle and exists at a given scale nested within a panarchy of other complex systems. Each of these complex adaptive systems is moving through its own adaptive cycle at faster and slower rates, affecting the course of addiction in various ways. We conclude this work by suggesting that forthcoming addiction interventions and research may benefit from the consideration that addiction is a function of three separate, but related, adaptive cycles; the addiction cycle itself; a transitory cycle, and a final cycle in which the individual is actively responsible for the maintenance of his or her own recovery.