The 5 Stages of Addiction

Addiction is one of the most common mental illnesses in the US; and at this point, death from substance abuse is at an all time high. Even in cases that aren’t as severe, addiction can negatively affect one’s relationships, mental & physical health, and personal life.

Abuse can be partly caused or impacted by one’s mental health, family history, social surroundings & their environment, or genetic factors. Since it can stem from so many places, it can be very difficult to tell where an addiction comes from; and how do you know when casual use of a substance for medicinal purposes becomes abuse?

There are several stages to addiction- it gradually increases in severity and can be very dangerous if it gets to the final stage. Once one knows which red flags to look out for, it will hopefully be easier for them to stop using before an addiction begins or becomes detrimental to their health.

 

What Is Addiction?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is, “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.”

This disorder can cause intense abuse of addictive substances such as alcohol, opioids, or nicotine. But since some of these drugs are used recreationally, it may not be clear when a dependence forms.

 

Signs of Substance Abuse

Here are just a few signals that someone you know may be dealing with an addiction issue:

  • Loss of self-control
  • Inability to stop using once starting
  • Decreased performance in work or school
  • Issues with money

Of course, that’s not all. Many other signs of addiction lay in the five stages.

 

Addiction: The Stages

Many theories about the stages of addiction have been floating around since before the time of scientists like Sigmung Freud, who was still only able to make predictions.

However, research has been done over time to determine a typical course that substance users usually take on their way to addiction. The path may include the following stages:

 

  1. Using for the First Time. You’ve probably heard people say something along the lines of “it all starts with the first sip” when referring to alcoholism. Well, this can be somewhat true when it comes to addictive drugs.
  2. Using Regularly. This is the stage when use becomes “recreational” or someone uses more often to cope with a physical or mental issue.
  3. Feeling Risky. Here’s the part when a person uses drugs in situations that may have an impact on their social or professional lives.
  4. Dependence. When someone builds a physical tolerance to a drug but doesn’t believe they have a problem, they may be lying in this stage.
  5. Abuse. Use becomes abuse when an individual keeps taking the drug despite negative consequences. When people reach this stage, it’s the hardest for them to quit.

 

The first stage can transition to the last seamlessly — sometimes it may be hard to notice when someone is abusing drugs. But if you know the signs and stages, you’re more likely to be able to catch it early in someone you know and encourage them to take the next step to sobriety.

How to Overcome Addiction

Rehabilitation is, of course, the best solution to overcoming addiction. If you think that you or someone you know may be suffering from addiction and is in one of the above stages, contact a center to find out what to do next.

Learn more about the stages of addiction and how you can get help by calling our 24/7 admissions team today 866-345-1543.

Sources

https://online.alvernia.edu/articles/stages-of-addiction/

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/the-addiction-cycle/stages-of-addiction