The Stages of Addiction

by | Jul 23, 2020 | Addiction

Businessman with drug addiction pours pills into his hand from bottle

Drug or alcohol addiction doesn’t happen instantly. No, it’s more akin to a slippery slope that one falls into without really understanding where they are headed. This is how people become ensnared. Addiction sneaks in the back door, under cover of night, to ease a person gradually into a world of hopelessness and despair. Read on to understand the five stages of addiction:

1.) Experimentation

The first stage of substance abuse is experimentation and can be difficult to recognize as dangerous. This could mean using drugs one time at a party, or drinking copiously with friends on Friday nights. This is the stage where addicts think they are fine. They can quit, they aren’t addicted, they’re just experimenting, they only do it “socially”. This stage is the gateway to more frequent substance use. 

2.) Regular Use

By this stage, drug or alcohol use has moved from occasional, only at parties or special occasions, to everyday life. At this stage, you will probably notice your loved one’s personality change. This is because the effects of the drugs are taking over their natural personality and are chemically altering the way they think and behave. 

3.) Risky Use

This one is difficult to discern as everyone’s definition of risky behavior is slightly different. However, this stage will bring out more, somewhat frightening changes in behavior. You might notice a person with a normally sweet nature becoming harsh, secretive, and demanding. During this stage, substance abuse becomes an accepted crutch in the everyday life of the user. This is when the reality of drug or alcohol abuse becomes obvious to others and sets in as a real issue. 

4.) Dependance

By this stage, a user’s body has become fully dependent on their substance of choice. They cannot think, move, or function without their drug and are usually in denial about the reality of their situation. This is when things sometimes escalate to the point of violence. During this stage, users will steal to substantiate their habit because they are desperate to get the drugs their body now depends on to function. This stage is often when users find themselves behind bars because they have stolen from too many people or have committed a crime outside their family unit to feed their habit. The dependence stage is when the problem can no longer be ignored. It is an issue that is obvious and must be dealt with before the user can do additional harm to themselves or others.

5.) Addiction

The last stage is full-on addiction. By now, your loved one is merely a shell of the person they once were. They have likely quit their job, they’re hanging around with a completely different crowd, they don’t behave like themselves and they’ve done things you would never have imagined they would do in a million years – all to feed their habit. By this stage, your loved one needs serious help to fight their substance addiction. It is no longer something they can ignore. They are stuck and need trained professional help to overcome their situation. 

Bonus – Recovery

Thankfully, your loved one’s story doesn’t have to end with the addiction stage. They can achieve full recovery through our drug and alcohol treatment program at Soul Surgery. We understand why addicts behave the way they do and we know that your loved one is caught in a vicious cycle that they too desperately want out of. That’s our goal: To break the cycle of addiction and promote recovery. Contact us today to learn more.

Soul Surgery
Soul Surgery Integrative Medicine Addiction Centers works with clients to bring healing and recovery for those suffering with drug and alcohol use, current or past trauma, mental health issues, and other life experiences. Located in Scottsdale, AZ, we provide addiction treatment, drug and alcohol detox, dual diagnosis treatment, mental health treatment, and medication assisted treatment on both an inpatient and outpatient basis.

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