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What is The First Stage of Addiction?

Person experiencing the first stage of addiction

As a general definition, addiction refers to a compulsive interest in almost anything despite negative outcomes. Addiction to drugs, alcohol, or activities will also cause physical or psychological dependence. There are two types of addictions: substance-related (drugs, alcohol) and behavior-related (gambling, shopping, food, sex, porn, etc.).

Consider this startling statistic. Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 58.7% (or 162.5 million people) used tobacco, alcohol, or an illicit drug in the past month.

Do you need information about a residential rehab center? Call us today at 866.931.6429.

Knowing the First Stage of Addiction

Neither substance nor behavioral addictions are healthy, nor is one less dangerous than the other. Today, there are specific treatment programs and in-depth support options available. For example, Evoke Wellness at Cohasset provides personalized treatment and therapy that is a substance or behavior addiction specific. The first stage of any type of addiction begins with the first use or “doing” as in behavioral addictions. For example, if someone is never to smoke marijuana, they will not develop an addiction. The same goes for gambling.

More About the First Stage of Addiction

However, with behavioral addictions necessary to sustain life, such as food, sex, shopping, money, etc., these are trickier to identify and treat because the person cannot become abstinent from food or money. Still, the first stage of addiction is ingesting it or engaging with it. So the best thing to do, especially if you have an addictive personality, is to avoid it. One day you could be someone who tries it one time and then a few weeks later, you are fully addicted and in need of recovery before it is too late.

How To Identify Addiction

The first important aspect of understanding addiction is comprehending that addiction is a disease that can be helped with professional treatment. If someone does not receive therapy, treatment, and support, their addiction will get worse. The way to calibrate if you or your loved one is addicted to a drug, alcohol, or behavior is to ask the following four questions.

  • Does the person have a compulsion to use or engage in the behavior?
  • Are they having cravings?
  • Is there a loss of control of how much they use or frequency of use (or active in a behavior)?
  • Are they experiencing negative consequences that relate to their substance use or behaviors?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is important to seek professional help for addiction.

The negative consequences of addiction are significant and damaging. They can include:

  • Financial problems
  • Job loss
  • Legal issues
  • Family conflict
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Health problems

If someone is unable to stop using a substance or engaging in a behavior despite facing these negative consequences, that is a strong sign of addiction.

What Do the Experts Who Study Addiction Say?

The National Institutes of Health have provided the five stages of addiction in simple terms. The final stage is an actual addiction. They also note the most definitive definition of addiction.

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that leads to medical, mental, and social complications. The five stages of addiction are as follows:

  1. First use (substance or behavior)
  2. Continued use of substance or behavior
  3. Tolerance to amount or frequency
  4. Dependence (physical and psychological)
  5. Addiction

More Information About Addiction

It is essential to realize that it takes time for an addiction to form. When a person uses or drinks or engages in addictive behaviors, their perception of what they are doing is overshadowed by the desire to use. Therefore, a person may have no idea that they are developing an addiction at first. However, as time goes on, most recovering addicts will admit that they knew they were using to escape and become a problem.

It is often much later that they desire to admit this because the drug or behavior is still providing them relief. The progression of any addiction will vary greatly depending on the individual, type of drug or behavior, and what their individual emotional and mental health looks like.

What Should I Do to Help My Loved One?

The only solution that has proven to help people get free from their addiction is to receive evidence-based forms of therapy and treatment. Evidence-based addiction treatment methods include behavioral therapies and pharmacotherapies (medications). Without these advanced treatment methods, a person will not stop or desire to stop. Behavioral therapy is especially effective in identifying the mental and emotional triggers and attitudes that push someone to use or engage in addiction.

The most beneficial types of behavioral therapy include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps people change their thoughts and behaviors. CBT is a common treatment for addiction and is often used in combination with other methods, such as medication.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment. DBT for addiction focuses on four key areas: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a counseling approach that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change addictive behaviors.

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

Rational emotive behavioral therapy, also known as REBT, is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on helping individuals identify and challenge irrational thoughts and beliefs in order to improve emotional well-being. The goal of REBT is to help individuals learn how to better manage their thoughts and emotions in order to reduce the negative impact that these can have on their lives.

Evoke Wellness in Massachusetts Provides Evidence-based Therapy Methods

Here at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset, we regard behavioral therapy as the primary method for helping most chronic addicts overcome their addiction and lead successful lives drug or behavioral addiction-free. We have the expertise and the experience. Call 866.931.6429 now for immediate help or for more information.