Stages of Addiction: From Experimentation to Treatment
NCDAS’s latest drug abuse statistics show that over 31.9 million people aged 12 and above use drugs. Over 165 million Americans aged 12 and above abuse tobacco and alcohol. More than 139.8 million people drink alcohol, while over 58.8 million people use tobacco. Over 8.1 million illegal drug users have drug disorders, and 24.7% of them have an opioid use disorder.
Drug addiction is not a one-time occurrence. Addiction takes time, depending on your exposure to risk factors and genetics. Clients whose family has a history of addiction are more likely to suffer from drug use disorder. Likewise, people with poor upbringing and mental health disorders are more likely to suffer from addiction. The following are the stages of drug addiction and the best treatment options.
Initial Drug Addiction Stage: Initiation
Addiction starts the moment you’re initiated into drug use. Yet, initiation into drug use doesn’t translate to addiction. The global drug user population equals more than 270 million, but only 35.6 million users have drug use disorder. That’s enough proof that not everyone who gets initiated into drug use is prone to addiction. Many reasons push people to abuse drugs for the first time, including:
• Peer pressure
• Poor prefrontal cortex development
• Stress and depression
• Poor family care and support
Many first-time drug users quit soon after the first or second attempt. Some drug users use the drugs for recreational purposes, but a bigger percentage of first-time users keep using the drugs until they develop drug use disorder. The possibility of a first-time drug user developing signs of dependency depends on the following factors:
• Alcohol or drug availability
• Closeness to people who abuse drugs
• The family environment
• Mental health state
Second Drug Addition Stage: Experimentation
In the experimentation stage, you’re no longer trying the drug to meet your curiosity. You’re now used to the drug. You can comfortably drink the alcohol or consume the drug if the situation allows. You might use the drug to calm down during stressful situations or during party atmospheres.
The experimentation drug addiction stage is a social behavior. You’ll find yourself associated with people who take the drugs to unwind or for fun. Although you’ve no cravings, you’ll think of the drug often. At this stage, your body is miles away from developing dependency. Stopping drug use at this stage won’t have serious side effects. Since you’re using the drug but not regularly, the drug doesn’t have control over you.
You can consume an excess of the drug at a time, but your rational brain is active. Automatic, unconscious responses don’t rule your decision to continue or stop the use. In some instances, you might binge drink, but you won’t have cravings for the drug afterward.
Third Drug Addiction Stage: Regular Use
As you experiment with the substance, it becomes a regular habit. The usage frequency can be days or weeks. In this stage, you’ll have developed a usage pattern. It could be during the weekends or when you’ve experienced moments of boredom or loneliness. Your drug consumption is not motivated by the social aspect at this stage.
Your rational brain is no longer as active. At this stage, you’re partially addicted to the drug. You’re binge-using the drug, and it’s affecting your life at times. You might find yourself reporting to work high or hungover. Although you’re not yet addicted to the substance, you often think of it. You have developed a mental reliance on the substance. You cannot take weeks before grabbing your favorite brand of alcohol or smoking your favorite marijuana strain. Once you reach this stage of addiction, going back will be a big challenge.
Fourth Drug Addiction Stage: Risk Use
At this stage, you have become a more frequent user. You might find yourself dealing with hangovers more often. The drug disorder problem has worsened. It’s probably affecting your life. You might get arrested for drunk driving when your drug addiction problem has reached this level. Clients at this stage also face problems with their school or work performance. The increased use frequency can leave many drug users in financial difficulties. In some instances, some people face issues with their social life.
In most instances, the addicted person’s behaviors will change. They may not notice the problem, but those around them will. Common problems with clients at this stage include:
• Changing friends and peer groups
• Stealing or borrowing money
• Lack of commitment to family/work
• Lack of interest in common hobbies
• Shifting to cheaper alternatives of their favorite drugs
• Changing prescription drug doctors
Fifth Drug Addiction Stage: Dependence
At stage five, you have become an addict. You no longer use the drug for medical or recreational purposes but rather as a lifestyle. At this stage, you have developed tolerance and dependence. The dependence stage refers to physical or/and psychological dependency on the substance.
If you have developed physical dependence, you’ve used the substance for years, and your body cannot function without it. In the event you stop using the drug, your body might enter into a withdrawal, attracting many side effects. Most symptoms experienced when you withdraw use at this stage need professional medical care. Few people choose to seek medical help. Instead, most of them go the easy way — continuing the use to avoid physical withdrawal symptoms.
Most people taking prescription medications enter this stage through psychological dependence. The addicted person believes that they need the substance to function properly. In other words, the addicted person uses the substance as a coping mechanism for stressful and difficult moments. They then assume that the drug is the only solution they need to deal with their insecurities and problems. The addict has already trained their mind to respond when there is a low drug supply in the body. Thus, they have to continue taking the medication for their body and mind to function.
Sixth Drug Addiction Stage: Addiction
By the time you hit the sixth stage of addiction, you’re already into the drug. Your life is quite dependent on the drug. Once you’re addicted to the drug, your conscious self is no longer involved in use decisions. At this stage, you somehow feel that your life is amiss when you do not take the drug. Some people often lose control over their actions and decisions. You might find that you no longer associate with people you used to. You’re isolating yourself from family and friends and giving up on your hobbies.
Clients at this stage feel threatened when someone questions their lifestyle. In some cases, clients have lost touch with normal life. They no longer realize the negative effect their behaviors have on their social life. Addiction is a chronic condition and can put a client’s life at a standstill. To come out of this stage of addiction, the client needs to commit to a recovery treatment process.
Seventh Drug Addiction Stage: Treatment/Crisis
At this stage, the client is in the worst life situation. They no longer have control over what happens to them. The crisis stage can knock down the client’s life. It can lead them to overdose or face another series of dramatic life events. In many instances, a client at the crisis stage can get saved by getting quality rehabilitation services. A client who commits to the rehab treatment solutions is sure to come out a warrior. However, the treatment process takes time, and the amount of time it takes depends on the client. Some clients take years to heal, while others will be okay in months.
How to Overcome Drug Addiction
A client who realizes the damage addiction has on their life and decides to quit needs support and professional help. Enrolling into a rehabilitation center is the first stage of recovery. However, if you have a strong will and can commit to months of abstinence, here are some tips to overcome drug addiction.
Build a Circle of Supportive Friends
Staying sober should be your full-time job when you decide to quit drug use. The best way to disrupt your urge for alcohol or prescription medication is by being among sober friends. It takes a strong will to avoid unhealthy relationships. Yet, you can ward off people who push you into the old drinking or drug use habits once you build a strong support group.
You can find new friends when you find a new hobby. You can join online training sessions. You can get outdoors to explore the world as a way to counter the old habits. Through these, you can build new friends who share similar goals.
Work Out and Engage in Charity Work
Working out is the most effective way to keep your body and mind fit. The more time you spend in the gym, the less you’ll think of alcohol, marijuana, or prescription drug. Besides, an exercise routine keeps you busy every day, preventing issues with relapse.
If you’re not the gym type, you can decide to engage in charity or community events. Support worthy causes such as bicycle riding events or walking tours to raise food and money to support poor children. These will allow you to work your body and mind out while helping people in need.
Meditate and Eat Well
To counter drug cravings, you need a strong immune system and will. You need to consume a healthy, well-rounded diet to support your mental and physical health. If you’re mentally and physically healthy, you will have no time to think about drugs.
To reinforce your good health, you may want to meditate. Engage in mindfulness exercises to reduce anxiety and stress. Mindfulness exercises can also strengthen your immune system and reduce blood pressure. Meditation practices have the power to calm your mind and help you deal with challenging mental issues.
Why Seek Professional Help When Fighting Addiction: The BlueCrest Experience
Recovery from drug addiction needs an evidence-based treatment approach. BlueCrest Recovery Center offers the ultimate go-to team for your addiction recovery treatment. The BlueCrest experience offers a customized treatment approach that combines 12-step evidence-based principles to support healing your spiritual, physical, and mental components affected by the drug addiction.
The talented and committed team at BlueCrest Recovery Center prides itself on changing the life of addicted clients. From the moment you call our experienced support staff members to the time you’re discharged, you’ll get attended to by a caring team. Our 12-step principles-based treatment approach has everything our clients need to heal and resume their normal lives.
We are a trusted drug addiction clinic that treats a variety of addictions. We understand the pains our clients go through. Our team has trained to assess and treat every kind of addiction problem, including:
• Alcohol addiction
• Marijuana addiction
• Suboxone addiction
• MDMA addiction
• Adderall addiction
• Cocaine and heroin addiction
• Benzodiazepines addiction
• Opioid addiction
Why Do Clients Choose Us?
Over the years, BlueCrest has helped thousands of happy clients overcome addiction. Our holistic approach to drug addiction recovery has remained our most robust tool. Besides the holistic treatment approach, we have a trained and qualified team.
Our treatment programs combine many treatment modalities. Our holistic treatment programs include but are not limited to meditation, group sessions, yoga, and individual sessions. Our well-trained clinical staff has the skills and passion for supporting client recovery. We are consistent in the way we address our clients’ needs. We communicate with their families.
Drug addiction is a serious menace in today’s world. Based on statistics, over 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, but only 10% of people with addiction get medical treatment. A similar study has shown that over 11.8 million people die globally due to drug abuse. Smoking and drug and alcohol use are responsible for approximately 11.4 million deaths out of the 11.8 million deaths. That tells you how bad drug and alcohol addiction is.
The leading cause of most drug and alcohol addiction deaths is ignorance. Fortunately, help is widely available and recovery from substance use disorder is possible with the right help and support. Clients should seek early professional assistance to help withdraw and stop drug use.