Addiction: Understanding the 4 Steps
Although it may feel like it, from the perspective of the addicted individual, addiction doesn’t happen fast. While there are many elements that directly contribute to drug addiction, including genetic and environmental influences, socioeconomic status, and preexisting mental health conditions, most professionals within the field of addiction agree that there are 4 main stages of addiction: experimentation, regular use, high-risk use, and addiction or dependency. Not everyone in the first two stages will develop an addiction, but individuals within the third stage are in danger of becoming full-blown addicts.
Stage One: Experimentation
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 individuals who are able to stop using by themselves will do so, while those who believe substance use will continue to make them feel good or solve their problems will progress into the next stage of regular use.
Stage Two: Regular Use
Stage two represents somewhat of a fork in the road for many people. Substance use just becomes another part of the routine and, before you can step away from use, you’re fooled into a false sense of security that it will be easy to quit. 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.
Stage 3: High-Risk Use
The line between regular use and high-risk use is a very thin one but usually can be defined as the continued use of drugs or alcohol in spite of severe social or legal consequences. What started out as a temporary form of escape from reality now takes precedence over other facets of your life, and you become either unafraid or unaware of the consequences of your behavior.
Stage 4: Addiction
Once the final stage is reached, you have entered addiction and complete dependency upon the substance. It’s no longer a question about whether or not you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol. When you don’t receive them, your body lets you know in the form of symptoms like shakes, sweats, tremors, and other frantic behavior. You spend most of the time drunk or high, and you don’t want anything to stand in the way of it. This is the stage that even if someone tells you that your life depends on stopping your behavior, you can’t.
Fortunately, no matter which stage of addiction you’re in, help is available. Addiction is a progressive illness that only gets worse when left untreated. If you’re ready to admit that you have a problem and embark on the road to recovery, speak to one of our compassionate counselors today about substance abuse recovery in Los Angeles
Understanding these stages is a critical step in recognizing that you may have a problem and seeking help before your substance use transforms into an addiction. People who become full-blown drug addicts might find themselves in trouble with the law, in and out of jail. If you or a loved one have been incarcerated due to a dui and in need of bail, call Bail Bonds Direct 800-880-8380.
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