Typical Stages of Addiction: What to know and look out for
Addiction can happen to anyone, and can catapult you into its wrath at any time. However, it is usually developed over time and repeated usage. The long-term effects of repeated substance use gradually alter how a person perceives a drug and how their body responds to it. Although the length of each phase varies greatly depending on the individual, dosage, and type of substance abused, the process is linear and follows the same pattern for everyone.
Because this cycle follows a pattern, it's straightforward to categorize it into stages of addiction, starting with a person's first use and progressing to complete dependence and addiction to drugs and alcohol.
- Initiation: The initial stage of addiction is known as initiation, and it occurs when an individual uses a substance for the first time. This may develop at virtually any age, but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most individuals with an addiction to drugs and alcohol took their drug of choice before the age of 18 and had a substance use problem by the age of 20.
- Experimentation: The user has progressed from trying the substance on its own to experimenting with it in various circumstances. It is associated with social acts, such as feeling pleasure or resting after a hard day. Teens use it to improve party atmospheres or relieve tension from studies. Adults mainly engage in exploration for enjoyment.
- Regular Usage: As a person continues to experiment with a substance, it becomes habituated and progresses from occasional to frequent. It varies according to the person, although some may take it every weekend or during mental distress. Social Users may begin using their preferred drug alone, removing the social component from their choice.
- Risky Usage: The individual's regular usage has increased and is now often negatively impacting their lives. While a sporadic hangover at work or an event is tolerable in Stage 3, it becomes a regular occurrence in Stage 4, and its consequences become evident. Many drinkers are arrested for DUI at this point, and all users' work or school performance will most certainly deteriorate significantly. Frequent usage may also result in financial troubles where none previously existed.
- Dependence: Drug usage is no longer recreational or medicinal but rather the result of becoming dependent on the substance of choice. This is sometimes considered an exhaustive stage, covering tolerance and dependency, although the individual should have established a tolerance. As a result, this stage should only be distinguished by a physical, psychological, or both reliance.
- Addiction: Dependency and addiction are occasionally used interchangeably, and while they are related and commonly associated with drug use, they are not the same. One of the most significant distinctions is that drug usage is no longer a deliberate decision when a person develops an addiction. Instead, individuals at this stage believe they can no longer cope with life without their preferred substance, and as a result, they lose all control over their decisions and behaviors.
- Treatment: The person's addiction has spiraled out of control and is now posing a serious threat to their health. It's also known as the crisis stage because it's during this time that the person who's addicted to substances is most at risk of dying from an overdose or experiencing another life-changing event.
It's necessary to remember that addiction doesn't always develop in a single direction. Some people may exhibit quick indicators of addictive behavior while drinking or using drugs. Others may acquire abusive tendencies gradually over months or years. The hazards and behaviors associated with each stage are also affected by the drugs used. Even experimenting with certain drugs can be far more hazardous and lead to addiction than regular usage of others.
Regardless of the speed at which someone’s addiction occurs, the sooner you get them the help they need, the better off they will be.
How to Help Someone With an Addiction to Drugs and Alcohol
A crucial aspect of helping someone with a drug or alcohol-related issue is helping them identify why they are using drugs and alcohol. Ask them a series of questions to get their wheels turning, and they'll be focused on understanding why they are doing what they are doing. We do not believe addiction is a disease but rather a response to other issues. Here are the four leading causes of addiction:
1. A Chemical Imbalance
2. Events of the past you have not reconciled
3. Current conditions you can't cope with
4. Things you believe that aren't true
Passages is not here to judge or label you as an addict or alcoholic. Instead, we are here to help you. It's time to address the underlying issues that are driving your addiction. Call Passages Malibu at any time for assistance, or fill out our private contact form below. We are always accessible to answer your inquiries.