The 5 Stages of Drug & Alcohol Addiction

This hyperactive stress response drastically increases negative emotions and physical discomfort. The user will feel the physical effects when the drug isn’t used. In other words, your body builds up a dependency on drugs or alcohol.

After all, it’s likely you or someone you know and love may be in one of those stages now. While much of the disease of addiction does not feel scientific, the process of developing dependence is. You cannot have a physical dependence on a drug or alcohol without first being tolerant to it.

You are experiencing blackouts related to drinking or using drugs and are also becoming deceitful and dishonest about your use. During stage 2, you are also using to excess as well as thinking about your use to excess. Psychological dependence happens eco sober house rating when you feel the intense, uncontrollable need to keep using. You likely feel that you cannot function without using, making it extremely difficult for you to quit. Casa Palmera gave me a second chance at “Living the Life” I’ve always wanted.

Also, by this stage of addiction, individuals have built a life that is centered around addiction, so many of their friends may also be addicted and thus unable to help with starting recovery. A person does not have to drink or use drugs every day to reach this stage of addiction, but using the substance must be a pillar in their life that comes before other obligations like work or family. At this stage of addiction, the individual has progressed past experimenting with drugs or alcohol.

One of the trickiest aspects of addiction is recognizing that often the first samples of drugs or alcohol produce few or no negative consequences. Experimentation, defined as the voluntary use of drugs without experiencing any negative social or legal consequences, is often accepted or even encouraged, particularly among young adults. The continual abuse of substances will always lead to a drug or alcohol addiction, especially as all stages progress. When a drug or alcohol addiction finally develops, the only option for help is to change the behaviors surrounding the abuse, which will only come from professional addiction treatment. You experience this stage when you are in the thick of a severe substance use disorder and are physically dependent on drugs or alcohol. At this time, you become fixated on everything that goes into your substance abuse.

And for most people, the relationship with drugs or alcohol does not advance much further than this. But for others, this simple start can transition into a clinical substance use disorder. Moreover, recognizing this cycle can also be a useful relapse prevention tool.

Prochaska, DiClemente and Norcross created the stages of change or transtheoretical model in 1983 to help people quit smoking. It was then updated in 1992, when it started being used in clinical settings for a variety of behaviors. By studying various mental health and substance use disorder treatment plans, Prochaska, DiClemente and Norcross noted patterns that occur as people progress through a major behavioral shift. Stage two represents somewhat of a fork in the road for many people. While some people may be able to engage in the regular use of drugs or alcohol without developing an addiction, the risk for dependence greatly increases during this stage. As does the risk of participating in high-risk behaviors, such as driving under the influence.

  • In reality, people can jump about between stages, go backward and forward, and even be in more than one stage at a time.
  • It is imperative to obtain professional treatment at any stage of addiction, but most important when a substance use disorder has formed.
  • Some people during this stage may develop feelings of guilt or shame for their behavior but generally will continue to justify it or make excuses.
  • At this stage you can use or not use based on your decision making.
  • It can also be defined by compulsive drug seeking, no matter how painful the consequences are.

Experimentation may also include a husband taking his wife’s prescription painkiller to cope with recurring back pain. Someone in the throes of drug addiction may begin to neglect basic needs. Grooming habits may deteriorate, meals are skipped, and sleep becomes impossible without the influence of the drug to dictate the schedule.

The Addiction Blog

Cocaine has various effects on the body, including dilating pupils, constricting blood vessels, increasing body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. I came in hopeless and left hopeful, with a treasure chest full of “good” coping tools. I learned some great tools I can use when I’m feeling down and I had a great support team here. Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. The maintenance stage is most challenging after a period of time has elapsed and the focus on reaching the goal has lost its intensity.

stages of addiction

He really helped me work on individual issues I have been struggling with for years. Addiction is serious, it is more than just all these symptoms put together, it is a chronic disease. Chronic disease translates to something that is slow to develop and will continue for a long duration . Your daily recovery plan may include 12 step meetings, individual or group counseling as well as other therapies to help you get better.

Although each situation is unique, addiction can generally be divided into five segments. These stages of addiction allow us to get a better understanding of what the patient is experiencing. Mental health, family history of addiction or social environment are all factors that can come into play.

The Initial Use and Experimentation Phase of Addiction

Substance use disorders are often-relapsing diseases, meaning that recovery will take a lot of work. The relapse rates for the disease of addiction are similar to those of other chronic conditions, including asthma, diabetes, and hypertension. Alcohol, however, tastes good, and it doesn’t warn you that it can be addictive. As the experimentation phase transitions into regular use and abuse, you may not notice the same signs of alcoholism as others because your body is different from that of normal drinkers. The adaptations help the body compensate in the short run, but as regular use turns into risky use, greater quantities of the same substances are needed to give users the same feeling. Nora D. Volkow, MD, George F. Koob, PhD., and Thomas McLellan, PhD.

Addiction is a progressive illness that, if left untreated, only gets worse. There are many forms of drug addiction treatment, including inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, 12-Step programs and holistic therapies. People in this stage usually experience their addictive behavior as a positive or pleasant experience. However, negative consequences do eventually affect people engaging in addictive behaviors.

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In this stage, an individual who is struggling with addiction requires the drug to function. The person will experience alcohol or drug withdrawal symptoms if they go without the substance. It can be dangerous for a person to quit on their own at this point.

For many people I know, the downward spiral happened much more quickly. The experimentation phase doesn’t mean additional substances being added to the mix, it refers to the use of the original substance in different scenarios aside from the initial setting. This means social use of drugs or alcohol turn into use at home or sometimes even the workplace. Similar to becoming addicted, there are stages on the way back out of addiction. The recovering addict must go through steps that include acknowledging the problem, developing a plan to quit, and putting the plan into action. Many helpful treatment resources are available when the addict is ready to make changes.

For people addicted to prescription drugs, this may be the stage where they begin to get the drug through illegal means. Risky substance use can lead to the development of psychological or physical problems, especially in teens and young adults. It’s eco sober house rating important to recognize the impact of drug and substance abuse before or during the regular use phase of addiction. By the time an individual grows dependent on their substance of choice, both their body and mind is reliant on the substances.

stages of addiction

The first use of a substance can look different from person to person. For a person who drinks alcohol, their first use might be a sip of beer at a high school party. For another person, it may be the first time they took painkillers following surgery. For some individuals, the first use of any addictive substance opens up the door to addiction. For others, a specific substance kicks the brain into addiction, while others do not. For example, a person that may have always been able to drink in moderation could become addicted to Xanax.

The Stages of Addiction

During this stage, a loved one’s use will result in serious behavioral changes that are obvious and dangerous. At this time, it is best if you help your loved one by providing them substance abuse treatment options that can help end their dependency. Even if young people pass through their teenage years without trying drugs or alcohol, they may experiment while in college, or as young adults. Whether it’s smoking, drinking, taking drugs or other addictive behaviors, the stages of addiction are the same at any age, and no one is immune from becoming addicted.

  • Addiction is everywhere in our society and is causing devastation to families and communities alike.
  • Continued use can be a result of taking the medication prescribed as a requirement.
  • From pain comes growth and that growth can catapult you into a much happier life.
  • Like diabetes or heart disease, it’s a chronic condition that requires major lifestyle changes to keep under control.

I cannot recommend 12 Keys at the River enough for those struggling with addiction. Each model, while different in their approaches, helps to provide a general understanding of how addiction does not just occur overnight, rather it develops through a series of stages. You are drinking or using drugs in social settings or other events where it is common to drink. You usually do not have trouble controlling your drinking or drug use but on occasion use more than intended. Your drug and/or alcohol use is noticeable to those around you and you are beginning to slack on major responsibilities at work, home, or school.

With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. You binge drink/use and become intoxicated due to cravings triggering your use. This is because your brain craves the dopamine release that occurs when you use. You are drinking or using to feel better about yourself, to manage painful emotions, to forget something, or to avoid anxiety.

The risks and behaviors in each phase also depend on the substance being abused. Even experimenting with some drugs can be much more dangerous and likely to lead to addiction than regular use of others. This first stage of drug or alcohol addiction can be difficult to catch on to, especially if a loved one is trying a substance for the first time. It can be hard for you to determine if this experimental use will turn into something more serious.

If you stop abruptly, within a few hours you feel intense cravings. Those cravings can turn into a panicky feeling if you can’t get more drugs or alcohol. As the Regular User stage starts to turn more toward addiction, people may find themselves using so frequently that their behavior raises troubling questions with others. They may start engaging in risky behaviors like driving under the influence or going to work high. If they don’t get caught, this further reinforces the false notion that they can continue using substances safely.

Stage 2: Experimentation

Regardless of how the initial use occurs, it is the first step toward addiction. As an example, for illicit substances used to feel a “high,” even one use is considered to be abuse. Some of these illicit substances can also result in tolerance within one or two uses. Nevertheless, in the majority of cases, all of these steps are part of the chronic cycle of addiction. Eventually, regular use gives way to risky use and finally, dependence. It takes a very big quantity of alcohol to give you the same effects.

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