Four Stages of Drug Addiction
There are many factors that can contribute to drug addiction,including genetic and environmental influences, socioeconomic status, personal behavior patterns, etc., but most addiction professionals have agreed that there are four main stages of drug addiction: experimentation,
📍Regular use or risky use.
📍High useage, and addiction or dependence.
Many people will never go beyond the, Stage 1 experiment.
Following up with the other stages however, can lead to an addiction issue. 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 they have developed, what to do. With the exception of those who fall into drug addiction inadvertently – usually as a result of taking prescription drugs – substance addiction follows a formula route. What starts as fun or relaxing can end up being traumatic, and even deadly. It is helpful to be aware of these stages, and to use the knowledge to prevent the end result of addiction.
Stage 1: Drug Experimentation
Experimentation is defined as the voluntary use of a drug without experiencing negative social or legal consequences. For many people, experimenting may happen once or a few times as a way to “have fun” or even to help the individual cope with a problem. For many, experimentation can occur without the desire to continue using the drug. For others, it can start to become a problem when moving on to the next stage of addiction: regular use.
While it may not always lead to complete addiction, drug experimentation is actually considered the first stage of addiction. Especially among young people, experimentation is often accepted or even encouraged, but it is important to remember that experimentation is not always dangerous. Especially if adolescents exhibit certain risk factors for addiction, experimentation can be an easy path to a long future from substance use disorders.
Experimentation among adults can occur when changing or expanding social groups, or getting a new job with a new work culture that may accept or encourage drug use. Regardless of when and why you started the experiment, each case should be considered on an individual basis. For example, if drugs are introduced to someone at a time when they are particularly vulnerable, there is a high chance that drug use will continue and develop into a serious problem. Or if experimental drug use produces positive results i.e. social acceptance, relief from stress, etc. This positive reinforcement can easily propel the person to the next stage.
Stage 2: Social or Regular Use
Some people will be able to enter the regular use stage without developing a dependency or addiction. These people will be able to stop drug use on their own,or simply grow out of it The problem with regular use, is that the risk of substance abuse is greatly increased during this stage. It also increases risky behaviors such as under the influence driving, unexplained violence, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. It’s important during this stage to watch for changes in mood and behavior, shifts in priorities, or early physical symptoms of addiction.
You may experience withdrawal from family and friends, problems with limiting the number of drugs used (never just one) or witness failed interventions by friends or family. People during this stage may develop personal concerns or feelings of shame over their behavior, but generally, continue to justify or make excuses.
Stage 3: Risky Use/Abuse
The transition between stages 2 and 3 may happen quite quickly and be difficult to detect in yourself or your loved ones. It is during this stage that drug users begin to prioritize drug use over other aspects of their lives and become unaware or unafraid of the consequences of their behavior. Warning signs associated with Stage 3 addiction are: physical or psychological craving and depression/irritability or fatigue if the drug is not accessible. The positive reinforcement experienced at stages 1 and 2 can propel a person to stage 3. At a biological level, repeated exposure to a substance causes some people to develop hypersensitivity – meaning that the individual will experience greater pleasure the next time they try the substance.
Hypersensitivity leads to an incentive salience, which means that the drug has now become a gift to the body and the body will begin to want the drug at greater intensity,and therefore request it again and again. The biological need for the drug combined with the psychological desire easily paves the way for addiction and full dependence to take over during Stage 4.
The line between regular use and risky use/abuse is very thin, but is usually defined as continued use of a drug despite severe social and legal consequences. What may start out as a form of temporary escape can quickly lead to more serious problems. This is the stage where warning signs of addiction will begin to appear: craving, preoccupation with the drug, and symptoms of depression, irritability and fatigue if the drug is not used.
Stage 4: Drug Addiction and Chemical Dependencies
Addiction and chemical dependence are the final stages of drug addiction. Characteristics of this stage include continued drug use regardless of its negative consequences, severe impact on physical and mental health, poor performance at work or job loss, or engaging in criminal activities.
Personal relationships are threatened or lost altogether as a result of drug use. If an addict progresses beyond stage four and enters recovery, it is usually the result of hitting rock bottom or incarceration, near-death experiences, loss of a loved one, etc. before they chose to seek addiction treatment. During stage four, addicts have reached a point they never imagined when they started experimenting. If they are able to identify their problem, they are rarely willing or able to take action to fix it. During Stage 4, peer and family support is important, but it is also a serious and sometimes even impossible emotional strain.
Physical dependence on drugs, is often associated with addiction. Characteristics of drug dependence and addiction include, withdrawal symptoms and compulsive drug use despite severe negative consequences, for relationships, physical and mental health, personal finances, job security and Personal safety.
Drug Addiction Treatment
No matter what stage of drug use you are in, it is important to seek help immediately, especially if you have reached a stage where you cannot stop using drugs on your own. Addiction is a progressive disease that, if left untreated, will only get worse. Fortunately, addiction is also a treatable disease. There are many forms of drug addiction treatment, including inpatient care, outpatient care, 12-Step programs and holistic therapy.
One thing to consider when choosing a drug addiction program is whether it offers dual diagnosis treatment. Often a person will develop a drug addiction after trying to self-
medicate the symptoms of mental illness. Other times symptoms of mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, will develop due to chronic drug use. The result is an endless cycle that is difficult to break without treating drug addiction and mental illness. Proper assessment of multiple diagnoses can help you at every stage of drug use and addiction.
Phoenix Rehab Bali is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment center located in Bali, Indonesia. We offer an effective and affordable treatment program. For more information on holistic drug addiction treatment options, feel free to contact us today.