Addiction comes in several different forms. It shows itself in both young people and older people. Those who suffer from it are sometimes unaware that they have a problem. The cause of addiction is different for everyone. Some may become addicted to pain medication because of chronic pain. Others may go through depression or feel peer pressure, resulting in a choice to try a harmful drug. There are many other reasons which lead people to deal with substance abuse. So, the stages of drug addiction may vary from person to person. But, some common stages have been identified. If you know about these various phases, it may help you in working with a friend or family member who is going through addiction.
Before the Stages of Drug Addiction
People don’t usually plan to become addicted to a substance. They don’t normally hope to become physically dependent on alcohol or drugs. Addiction isn’t a choice most people try to make. But, before dependency even happens, a person might deal with a different type of disorder. Perhaps, the person struggles with anxiety or trauma. These and lots of other issues tend to lead people to develop an addiction. Then, the stages of addiction might begin before the person even realizes what is happening.
The Phases of Addiction
Experimentation: First, a person may begin to experiment with a substance. As we mentioned before, some people may try a drug because they feel pressured by their peers. Unfortunately, that’s a common problem amongst young people, although peer pressure can also impact adults. Sometimes, older adults experiment with various medications to ease pain or help them sleep at night. As they begin to try different prescriptions, they might start becoming dependent on some of them. Some individuals may start drinking a lot more because of loneliness or depression. Experimentation is usually the first in the stages of drug addiction. It then leads to other phases, which you might already be seeing in your loved one.
Regular Use: Following a person’s experimentation with a substance, he or she will probably begin to use that substance regularly. The person might start thinking about the drug more and more. People who have chronic pain might take medication even when they don’t feel pain, just in case. Young people might start exhibiting “social drug use.” Maybe, they’ll use the drugs often when they’re around their friends.
Risky Use: The third phase in the stages of drug addiction is harmful to use. The person who’s been using drugs on a regular basis will start using them more often. They’ll use even though it’s hurting them. Using the substance might be causing harm to the person and the people around them. But, they’ll still continue to drink or take drugs. People in this stage may start driving under the influence of a harmful substance. Or, they might get defensive when someone tries to talk to them about the problem. Another sign of this stage is poor spending habits. Sometimes, people will use their money to get more drugs, which causes them to run out of funds really quickly.
Dependency: When a person becomes chemically dependent on a drug, his or her brain and bodily functions are altered. It will feel like the person can’t feel “normal” without using the drug. But, people in this phase can still maintain somewhat of a structure in life. They might begin to avoid certain responsibilities. Yet, they can still function well enough in different areas of their life.
Addiction: The final part of the stages of drug addiction is addiction itself. Addiction is the physical and/or psychological dependence on a substance. The person who is addicted to a drug might become completely unable to function. Health will deteriorate and the person won’t be able to operate normally. They may become dishonest and try to hide their problem.
What Can You Do?
If you know someone who might be going through one of these stages of drug addiction, you need to act quickly! Talk to your loved one about getting help. Try to get family and friends involved, letting the person know that you’re all concerned. Then, look into a facility that can help during recovery from addiction.
Here at Asheville Recovery Center, we are familiar with the stages of drug addiction and we know how to treat this problem. Our mission is to see people completely free from substance abuse and dependency. Don’t wait; contact us today!