Stages Of Addiction: 1st To Last. A Primer

Stages of Addiction Few people take their first dose of a drug-- legal or illegal-- with the hope of getting addicted. For 2009, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration declares that 23.5 million people sought some form of treatment for drug and alcohol problems. Of course, individual physiology and psychological makeup have much to do with how swiftly addiction can take hold and with the amount consumed before passing the invisible line from freedom to enslavement.

While every particular case may differ in time frame and ferocity of dependence, some patterns are common within the complete pool of substance abusers. Through the statements of addicts and those who care for them, researchers can identify benchmarks for the phases of drug addiction.

Experimenting With Substances

Experimentation may have several different motivations. For young people, peer pressure is a dominant reason for partaking in their initial drag, drink or snort. Addiction does not have to start in adolescence. A middle-aged or older individual may try out prescribed pain relievers to manage continuous aches and discomfort. Even the elderly might use alcohol or drugs to soothe being alone. These correspond to significant moments in life when a substance is taken to make a bodily, emotional or social condition a bit more bearable. Isolated occasions of use may or may not be continued with greater repetition or quantities. With no realistic self evaluation a truthful evaluation of the indicators of substance addiction a user might move unknowingly into the more intense stages of drug addiction.

Consistent Consumption

Taking a drug or other people substance on a regular basis does not always lead a person into addiction. Some are able to consume a substance continuously for a period and then discontinue its use with little or no discomfort. The probability of dependence is based upon the duration of the use period and the potency of the doses. Should the timeframe extend indefinitely and the potency of dosage also increase, routine use might become substance addiction. An additional cautionary sign is particular adjustments in conduct. If speech and behaviors change dramatically, especially a heightened propensity toward aggression and unsafe conduct, it is necessary to cease taking the drug.

Unsafe Consumption

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As the stages of drug addiction are traveled through, the individual's personal choices and conduct get progressively more dangerous, both to himself or herself and other people. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health declared that 28.4 percent of young people between the ages of 21 and 25 drove a vehicle under the influence of illicit substances in 2009.

• Driving a vehicle while under the influence of a sedative drug • Using cash foolishly to obtain the substance • Defensiveness in conversation • Concealing things • Adjustments in appearance. Changes in desire for food, memory failure and degrading coordination are also warning signs of substance abuse. The line of demarcation in between unsafe consumption and dependency is thin and difficult to differentiate. Getting aid for oneself or somebody you care about should not be delayed at this phase.


Of all the stages of drug dependence, addiction and use are the toughest to demarcate. The disastrous penalties of drug abuse are already unmistakable in addiction. For example, the dependent individual is frequently absent from their job as a result of repetitive consumption of the controlling compound. Over and above the employer, the drug abuser will periodically allow obligations to family, friends, neighbors and society go by the wayside. The hazardous tendencies recorded above become much more recurring as well. Through it all, though, the dependent stands apart from the addict by meeting enough obligations to maintain the basic structure of his/her life. Though the trajectory of drug abuse stages remains headed downward, the semblance of functionality lingers.


If changes are not made-- and help is not looked for-- the stages of drug addiction lead to the most severe phase: addiction itself. Here the person is mentally and physically bound to ongoing consumption of the drug or alcohol. The stage of brain disease is arrived at and the victim is susceptible to several damaging effects of long-term substance abuse. Given that the addiction is of both mind and body, withdrawal manifestations are best overseen and cared for by seasoned doctors. Once the addictive compound has left the body, the drug abuser should work with mental health professionals to determine the root causes and nature of the addiction.

Without a realistic self-assessment-- an trustworthy analysis of the signs of drug addiction-- an individual could pass unwittingly into the more intense stages of drug addiction. Taking a drug or other chemical substance on a regular basis does not inevitably lead someone into addiction. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health declared that 28.4 percent of young people between the ages of 21 and 25 drove a vehicle under the influence of illicit drugs in 2009. Of all the stages of drug dependence, addiction and use are the hardest to demarcate. If adjustments are not initiated-- and aid is not sought-- the stages of drug addiction draw a person to the most severe stage: addiction itself.

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