Addiction is the result of a progression of phases that involve behaviors and chemical changes in the brain. It often damages people’s health, relationships, careers and financial security. Since it progresses in stages, it’s important for people to seek treatment when they see the pattern starting to develop. Treatment is available at any point during these stages of addiction and can prevent the disease from fully developing.
Stages of Addiction
There are five sequential stages of addiction. The process starts with experimenting with drugs. It progresses based on how much and how long people use these drugs.
Drug experimentation starts with the first time people use alcohol or drugs. Teens and adults alike can experiment. They could be at a party or at home trying to relieve stress.
Using drugs in this stage is more of a social matter people associate with unwinding or having fun. They don’t think of it as having consequences because they only use drugs once in awhile. Also, they have control over how much and how often they use.
Regular Drug Use
Eventually, individuals start to use drugs more regularly. Although it’s not every day, a predictable pattern starts to develop. They may use every weekend or in certain situations such as under high stress or boredom. Although they previously used drugs with other people, they may start using alone.
In addition, some people start using regularly to achieve certain results. Some examples include pain relief, weight loss and sleep. Others simply enjoy the high they get from the drugs. They remain in control of their drug use and can stop if they want, but they like the effects.
The next stage of drug use turns into abuse. The drugs start to negatively impact people’s lives at this point. They might drive under the influence or do poorly at school or work. Their relationships and financial security may suffer as well.
Quitting in this stage is possible but more difficult because they may have cravings. They might also have a hard time imagining their lives without drugs.
Physical and Mental Dependence
As people continue to use drugs, they develop a tolerance. This condition requires them to use more drugs at a time to achieve the same effects. Continuing to use after tolerance develops, leads to physical dependence. This condition causes a withdrawal response when people go without drugs.
Further drug use leads to mental dependence. This condition usually involves a frequent and high amount of drug use. People often have drug cravings and start using again after they try to quit.
The final stage is addiction when the dependence turns into a compulsive need for drugs. Many people with addiction will do anything to get drugs, including hurt their loved ones. They need drugs to function, the cravings become unbearable, and their lives feel out of control.
People with an addiction no longer have control over whether or not they use drugs. In fact, the drugs control them. The disease causes a chemical change in the brain that requires proper treatment to overcome.
Get Addiction Treatment Now
Although there are five stages of addiction, there’s no set timeline for its development. Every person is different, so addiction can develop faster in some people than others. For this reason, it’s essential for people to get treatment at the first signs of a drug problem. Steps to Recovery offers several treatment programs that help people overcome addiction, including:
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Outpatient rehab
- Sober living
Don’t let addiction and relapse be the story of your life. Get the support you need to overcome your drug problems. Call Steps to Recovery today at 866-488-8684 to get started on your recovery.