Many people will never make it past stage 1 experimentation, but most people who progress beyond stage 2 will in fact develop an addiction. Below is a breakdown of the 4 stages of drug addiction so you can learn how to identify the symptoms and signs of addiction, or if you have already progressed, what to do about them. Although not necessarily leading to total addiction, drug experimentation is, in fact, considered the first stage of addiction. Especially among young people, experimentation is often accepted or even encouraged, but it's important to remember that experimentation is not always harmless.
Especially if teens have certain risk factors for addiction, experimentation can be an easy path to a long future of substance use disorders. During the fourth stage, the addict has reached a point he would never have imagined before when he started experimenting. If they are able to identify your problem, they are rarely willing or able to take steps to correct it. During Stage 4, peer and family support is important, but it's also a serious emotional strain and sometimes even an impossibility.
With the exception of those who fall into addiction accidentally, usually as a result of taking a prescription medication, substance addiction follows a formula path. What starts out as fun or relaxing can end up being traumatic and even deadly. It's helpful to know these stages and use knowledge to prevent the end result of addiction. Very few people set out to become addicted.
A more common scenario is that a friend or family member offers the user a substance, usually with the stated intention that using the drug is fun or useful. A candidate may see this case of taking drugs as something that happens only once, but the first time may be what opens the door to the downward spiral of addiction. Peer pressure is the main culprit for this type of experimentation. Young people, in particular, are in a crucial period of development when it comes to the need to feel accepted by their peers.
However, while teens have a reputation for agreeing with the crowd, not even adults are immune to this pressure. Measurable stress levels tend to increase, for everyone, when we experience that we are not accepted into a group. Those who don't have a good defense against social ostracism often use an offered drug to feel included. Others will start taking a medication offered as a means of relieving physical discomfort.
While supposedly safe when taken as prescribed, pain relief medications used outside of a doctor's prescription are currently the primary factor in the development of an addiction. An overwhelming number of current heroin users cite prescription drug misuse as a starting point in their opioid addiction. In this next stage on the path to addiction, something that was once considered recreational or temporary becomes a lifestyle. The user discovers that life is not as comfortable or satisfying without using the substance, and begins to use it as a crutch to overcome everyday life.
Experiences considered without the medication may be considered boring and users may not see any viable options to improve their sobriety circumstances. With full-blown addiction, the user is comfortable with the changes listed above. Less time is spent on self-contemplation, since most thoughts focus on how to get the next high. An addict may not even look like the person you knew before.
In addiction, users will feel that they cannot refrain from using the substance. They may make the decision to quit smoking, only to disappoint themselves with the use again. They may be aware of the misery of their loved ones, but their concern cannot negate the need to use. Friends and family can take a backseat to associate with others who are using and supplying the drug.
Someone in the midst of drug addiction may begin to neglect their basic needs. Grooming habits can deteriorate, meals are skipped and sleep becomes impossible without the influence of the drug to dictate the schedule. Jobs can be lost, resulting in a loss of income. Having no income can contribute to an increase in criminal behavior and the pursuit of charity, and can become a revolving door to sustained poverty.
Seo specialist in Sri Lanka Similar to the stages of becoming addicted, there are stages on the path back from addiction. The recovering addict must follow steps that include recognizing the problem, developing a smoking cessation plan, and implementing the plan. When the addict is ready to make changes, there are a multitude of helpful treatment resources available. A medical detoxification is the safest and most effective way to end chemical dependence on a substance and develop the tools needed for lifelong sobriety.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and looking for a New York or New Jersey detox, Ascendant is here to help. Our drug treatment and detoxification center in New York has caring and experienced professionals who can help you get back to your life. We also offer an IOP program in New York. Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment.
He graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a bachelor's degree. As a person recovering from a disordered diet, he is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. He writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Epiphany Wellness, The Heights Treatment, Infinite Recovery, New Waters Recovery, and BasePoint Academy adolescent mental health treatment center. In her spare time, she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices and enjoys being a mother to a beautiful daughter.
An addiction doesn't form spontaneously during the night. Instead, it is the result of a long process of repeated substance abuse that gradually changes the way a person views a drug and the way their body reacts to it. This process is linear and has the same progression for each person, although the duration of each step in that progression can differ greatly depending on the person, the dose, and the type of drug being abused. Because this process follows a pattern, it is possible to divide it into the stages of an addiction, starting with a person's first use and leading to the addiction itself.
While there is some debate about how many stages there are for addiction, seven is one of the most popular numbers to chart the process. Understanding each stage and the behaviors associated with each of them is a valuable way to identify when someone is at risk of suffering from an addiction or has already developed it. As each stage progresses, so do the dangers associated with drug use, as the ability to stop using it becomes much more difficult. If circumstances align and the person continues to take the drug, they may soon find themselves in the second stage of addiction.
In the experimentation stage, the user has stopped testing the drug on their own and is now taking the drug in different contexts to see how it affects their life. In general, at this stage, the drug is related to social actions, such as experiencing pleasure or relaxing after a long day. For teens, it's used to improve the party atmosphere or manage the stress of schoolwork. Adults enter into experimentation mainly for pleasure or to combat stress.
During Stage 2, there is little or no desire to use the drug and the person will continue to make a conscious decision whether to use or not. They can use it impulsively or in a controlled way, and the frequency of both options depends mainly on the nature of the person and the reason they consume it. There is no dependency at this time, and the individual can still easily stop the medication if they so choose. As a person continues to experiment with a substance, its use normalizes and moves from periodic to regular use.
This doesn't mean that they use it every day, but rather that there is some kind of pattern associated with it. The pattern varies by person, but some cases may be that they take it every weekend or during periods of emotional distress such as loneliness, boredom, or stress. At this point, social users can begin taking their chosen medication on their own, in turn eliminating the social element of their decision. Drug use can also become problematic at this time and have a negative impact on the person's life.
For example, the person might start showing up for work hungover or high after a night of drinking alcohol or marijuana. There is still no addiction at this time, but the individual is likely to think about the chosen substance more often and may have begun to develop a mental dependence on it. When this happens, quitting smoking becomes more difficult, but it's still a manageable goal without outside help. With stage 4, the person's regular use has continued to increase and now often has a negative impact on their life.
While a periodic hangover at work or an event is acceptable for Stage 3, in Stage 4, instances like that become a regular occurrence and their effects become apparent. Many drinkers are arrested for driving while intoxicated at this time, and it is likely that all users will see their work or school performance being significantly affected. Frequent use can also lead to financial difficulties where they didn't exist before. The hallmark of entering Stage 5 is that a person's drug use is no longer recreational or medical, but rather because they become dependent on the substance of choice.
This is sometimes seen as a broad stage that includes forming a tolerance and dependence, but by now, the individual should have developed a tolerance by now. As a result, this stage should only be marked by a dependence, which can be physical, psychological, or both. For physical dependence, the individual has abused the chosen drug long enough for their body to adapt to its presence and learn to trust it. If use is stopped abruptly, the body will react by going into retreat.
This is characterized by a negative rebound full of uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms, which must be handled by medical professionals. In most cases, people choose to continue using it, rather than seeking help, because it's the easiest and quickest way to avoid withdrawal. With some medications, especially prescription medications, the individual can enter this stage through psychological dependence before a physical one is formed. When this happens, the individual believes that they need the medication in order to function as a normal person.
Here, the drug commonly becomes a coping mechanism for difficult times, and then extended to cases where it really shouldn't be needed. For example, a patient taking pain relievers may begin to over-medicate, as they perceive moderate pain as severe pain. In either case, the individual takes the medication because they have come to an understanding that they need it in some way to continue throughout life. Once this mentality takes hold, addiction is almost certain.
Dependence and addiction are words that are sometimes used interchangeably, and although the words are similar and are often connected in drug use, they are different. One of the biggest differences is that when a person develops an addiction, their drug use is no longer a conscious choice. Until that time, it remains at least a shadow of one. People at this stage feel that they can no longer cope with life without having access to their chosen medication and, as a result, lose total control of their choices and actions.
Behavioral changes that began during Stage 4 will grow to extremes, and the user is likely to give up old hobbies and actively avoid friends and family. They may compulsively lie about their drug use when asked and quickly become agitated if their lifestyle is threatened in any way. Users, at this point, may also be so disconnected from their old life that they don't recognize how their behaviors are harmful and the effects it has had on their relationships. Another term for addiction is substance use disorder, which is an accurate description because it is a chronic illness that will present life-long risks.
Even after a person stops using a medication and has undergone treatment, there will always be a danger of relapse. This means that one must commit to a complete lifestyle change, to maintain one's recovery life. The final stage of addiction is the breaking point in a person's life. Once here, the individual's addiction has gone out of control and now represents a serious danger to their well-being.
It is sometimes referred to as the crisis stage, because at this point the addict is at greatest risk of suffering a fatal overdose or other dramatic life event. Of course, while the crisis is the worst case scenario for this stage, there is also a positive alternative that fits here. Whether on their own or as a result of a crisis, many people seek help for the first time in a rehabilitation center to begin treatment. As a result, this stage can mark the end of your addiction, as well as the beginning of a new life without drugs or alcohol, which is full of hope for the future.
Have you been able to identify with any of the seven stages discussed today? If so, it may be time to seek professional help from an addiction treatment center. At Brookdale Addiction Recovery, we can provide you with the individualized care you deserve, through our patient-centered treatment approach. As each patient enters our program, they undergo a thorough evaluation by our medical and clinical team to develop comprehensive treatment plans tailored to their needs. Sometimes there is a perception that addiction is something that exists in a person's character or it doesn't exist.
This idea may lead to the belief that a person who is struggling with addiction to a substance may have had a drink or tried an illicit drug once and immediately became addicted. However, the reality is a little more complex than that. As defined by the American Society for Addiction Medicine, addiction is a chronic brain disease that affects reward, pleasure, memory and motivation of the brain. Like many chronic diseases, it doesn't just arise one day.
Often, several circumstances align that, over time, cause a person who would otherwise enjoy the occasional drink or avoid substance abuse to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. The process of developing addiction in this case tends to occur in a series of stages and, like other chronic diseases, often turns into a cycle of addiction, treatment, or withdrawal and relapse. Multiple stages of addiction can occur in a short period of time, or they can take months or even years to develop. A person who has only had an occasional drink may, over the years, develop a habit that can develop into alcoholism.
If you think you or a loved one may be struggling with addiction, let us hear your story and help you determine the path to treatment. Sometimes, these stages can occur simultaneously. For example, for illicit substances used to feel “high”, even one use is considered abuse. Some of these illicit substances can also result in tolerance within one or two uses.
However, in most cases, all of these steps are part of the chronic cycle of addiction. There are many reasons why the person who ends up struggling with an addiction might try the substance to begin with. It can be as seemingly benign as getting a prescription for pain management or a mental health problem, as culturally typical as trying a first drink at age 21, or as insidious as being pressured by friends or family to try illicit drugs. Regardless of how the initial use occurs, it is the first step towards addiction.
However, even these risk factors won't necessarily lead to the high-risk person developing a substance use disorder, such as addiction. Other contributing factors often take into account, including later stages of addiction. When a person has been taking a prescription medication or has abused other substances for an extended period of time, the substance can cause changes in the brain that result in tolerance, a condition described by the Merck Manuals as one in which the original dose or use of the substance no longer produces the same physical effect or mental effect. As a result, the person using the substance may increase the dosage or frequency of use to try to recover the original result.
For a while, this could work. Then, over time, tolerance to this new dose occurs, and the person increases again, creating a progression to intense substance abuse. However, if the person has been using a medication to treat another condition and becomes dependent on that drug to feel good regardless of the condition being treated, it may be a type of dependence that leads to addiction. In general, experiencing 2-3 of these symptoms is considered a mild substance use disorder.
Reporting 4 to 5 of them leads to a diagnosis of a moderate disorder. If the person experiences 6 or more of the symptoms, it is considered to indicate a serious substance use disorder or addiction. A person may make several attempts to stop using a substance before realizing that addiction is a factor. However, when addiction is diagnosed, it is possible to interrupt this cycle of addiction, withdrawal and relapse by receiving professional treatment supported by research that demonstrates your ability to help.
Multiple methods, including cognitive and behavioral therapies, group peer support, and other physical and mental health treatments, can encourage the person to develop tools to manage this chronic and recurrent condition. As with medications and therapies used to treat asthma and diabetes, Addiction Rehab treatments are designed to help the person learn to manage a chronic substance use disorder and reduce the likelihood of relapse in drug use. With certified and experienced motivation and help, these individuals can learn to interrupt the cycle of addiction and move toward sustained abstinence that heralds recovery and results in a more positive future. .