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Stages of Addiction


Published: November 24, 2021

The stages of addiction can be challenging to overcome. However, by identifying the stages before they progress, there is a chance that you can get the help you or a loved one needs to fight addiction. 

The Initiation Stage

The initiation stage is where an individual begins to use drugs for the first time. There are many reasons why someone might try a drug or alcohol initially. Drug use can stem from peer pressure, family history, curiosity, or even boredom. In many situations, a person uses a drug for the sake of interest and then ceases when that curiosity has been satiated. However, if someone continues to use drugs or alcohol, they may soon find themselves in the second stage of addiction.

The Experimentation Stage

The experimentation stage is typically defined by sporadic use of a substance and not full-on addiction. During stage 2, users have stopped just trying the drug and have started using it in other contexts of their lives.

During this stage, drug use is typically associated with social interactions or is used to relax after a long day of work. During the experimentation stage, users experience few urges and can quit quite readily, but it’s crucial to note that if drug use does not cease, this phase might spiral into addiction.

Regular Use Stage

The regular use stage is where addiction can truly begin. As time passes, individuals may find themselves using more often or in larger quantities than before. While users may not be using every day, a predictable pattern usually forms, such as using every weekend.

In this stage, users tend to start using alone rather than socially. This can indicate that drug use has become part of the user’s life and is something done to avoid negative feelings like anxiety or frustration.

Risky Use Stage

The risky use stage is where drug use can become extremely dangerous and start negatively impacting their life. People are more likely to engage in activities that may have legal consequences during this stage, such as driving under the influence or stealing money for drugs.

If drug use continues in this manner, they may find themselves entering the fifth stage of addiction dependence.

The Dependence Stage

Once someone reaches the dependence stage, they are likely addicted to drugs or alcohol. There are three steps to the dependence stage:

  • Physical dependency: A person has become physically dependent on drugs or alcohol as their body begins tolerating larger doses of substances to function normally.
  • Psychological dependency: A person begins to depend on drug use to feel happy or “normal.” This is when addiction is usually considered to be full-blown.
  • Tolerance: A person will build a tolerance and need larger doses of drugs or alcohol to feel their desired effects.

The dependency stage is where most drug addicts find themselves, but there are still steps to be taken before someone can reach the last stage of addiction.

Substance Use Disorder

In the substance use disorder stage, a person loses control over their use of drugs or alcohol. This is different from being dependent, as a person might not need to use drugs or alcohol to function. During this stage, you are likely to experience intense withdrawals after stopping drug use, and users are often unable to quit independently.

Crisis/Treatment stage

If drug use continues, a person may find themselves in an overwhelming state of crisis. During this stage, drug use has grown beyond the control of the addict and starts posing severe health risks such as overdose.

The crisis stage is where most addicts are when they finally decide to seek help. Rockland Treatment Center specializes in helping addicts overcome their addiction to find a life free from drugs and alcohol. Rockland Treatment Center has the tools needed to help you or a loved one take the first step towards recovery.

Contact Rockland Treatment Center

If you or a loved one is suffering from the stages of addiction in the Tampa Bay area, contact the Rockland Treatment Center and start the path to a healthy, drug-free life. Remember, you are never alone, and help is only one step away. Call (727) 610-8570 or click here to get help today.

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