What Are The 7 Stages For Developing An Addiction?
People use drugs and alcohol for various reasons. Alcohol is legal and generally socially acceptable. There are people that will have a drink or two on special occasions. Some people can limit their drinking to that. Then there are others that may have added stress in their lives and start out drinking socially, but quickly lose control because it numbs their emotions. The same goes for drugs.
Why Do People Start Using Drugs?
With drugs like opioids, many people will suffer an injury or have surgery and get prescribed pain medication short-term. They also may have some added stress, depression, or anxiety in their lives and realize that the opioids make them happy.
They take away all of the mental and emotional pain and relieve their stress too, so they keep taking them. They will take them long after their physical pain has ended in an attempt to self-medicate.
Other substances may be used if someone is experimenting or around a group of friends and feel peer pressured to try it. Any of these reasons can quickly lead an individual down a self-destructive path to addiction if they aren’t careful.
How Do You Develop An Addiction?
Addictions develop in stages, they don’t just happen overnight. It is a process of repetitive substance abuse over a long period of time. Dependence can occur in some cases and then the addiction takes place.
The Seven Stages For Developing an Addiction
There is a difference of opinion on how many stages there are for developing an addiction. Some say there are four stages, but the most popular number is seven. So here are the seven stages for developing an addiction.
- Initiation – The initiation stage is where the person tries a drug or alcohol for the first time. This stage can happen at any time, but according to the NIDA, most people with addictions have tried their drug of choice before the age of 18. These individuals tend to have a substance use disorder by the age of 20. A lot of this has to do with peer pressure. Many may try a drug or alcohol then stop, but this stage can also lead to addiction for many. Especially if there are mental health issues involved.
- Experimentation – Stage two is the experimentation stage. During this stage the individual is using substances at different times. It could be in social settings or just to relax after a bad day. Stage two involves no cravings, and the person can still make a conscious choice whether to use or not. There is no dependency at this point.
- Regular Use – Stage three is regular use. In stage three the individual continues to experiment, and use starts to become a normal thing. They may not use it every day, but a pattern is associated with their use. The individual starts using by themselves at this stage also. Their use becomes problematic and starts hurting their daily lives. Regular use usually involves a mental dependence, but they still aren’t addicted at this point.
- Risky Use – In stage four, regular use has continued to grow and frequently hurts the person’s daily life. This stage typically involves law issues and financial difficulties. Other people start to notice the person’s behavior change at this stage too. They start stealing and borrowing money, neglect responsibilities, attempt to hide their use, lose interest in normal hobbies, change peer groups, and possibly visit multiple doctors for prescriptions.
- Dependence – Stage five is dependence. The person is no longer using recreationally or for medical purposes. At this point, they rely on their drug of choice. The individual has developed a tolerance at this stage and a dependence (physical, psychological, or both). They will suffer withdrawal symptoms at this stage if they abruptly stop using.
- Addiction – Stage six is the addiction stage. By this stage, the individual is in full-blown addiction. They have lost control over their drug use and can no longer deal with life without a substance. They compulsively lie about their substance abuse and may become agitated if they are questioned about it. Addiction causes a person to lose touch with reality. Even if they seek treatment, there is always a risk of relapsing.
- Crisis/Treatment – The final stage of addiction is the crisis/treatment stage. At this stage, the individual is at risk for an overdose or, even worse, a fatal overdose. Treatment is necessary to save their life.
If you can identify with any of these stages, especially stage three and beyond, now is a good time to reach out to someone for help. You don’t have to live a life of addiction; there is hope.
Help is One Call Away at Evoke Wellness in Massachusetts
Evoke Wellness MA offers evidence-based addiction treatment to cater to each patient’s individual needs. Our solution-focused treatment provides men, women, and families integrated and comprehensive care geared towards leading you on the road to long-lasting recovery. At Evoke Wellness MA, our primary goal is to make your treatment experience as comfortable as possible.
If you are having issues with any substances, let us help you. Our specialists and professionals are highly qualified and supportive and will help you start today’s recovery journey. Recovery today for a better tomorrow.