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a man struggling as he goes through the later stages of addiction

Stages of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disease that develops over time. In fact, the development can be so slow, that many people including the addict, may not realize they are going through the stages of addiction. One of the reasons for this is that people often grow accustomed to addiction or choose to ignore the symptoms.

There are multiple signs of addiction that include:

  • Loss of control over substance use
  • Denial that a problem exists
  • Changes in behavior, appetite, or sleep
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, school, or work
  • Obsession with the substance that never seems to end

These problems develop within various stages of addiction until they become noticeable or it’s too late. Let’s explore the stage of addiction so that you can recognize them when they occur. 

Stage 1: Exploration

Every addiction begins with the first drink or hit. For many people, that first experience does not necessarily trigger an addiction. For others, it can lead to a life-changing and lifelong dependency that grows over time. The first experience often happens during a person’s teenage years while they are with friends in a social setting.

Stage 2: Ongoing Use

The user has developed an affinity for the drug and wants to continue using it. At first, they may occur once a month or only on the weekends. Or, the person may only use the substance in social situations or special occasions. However, as time goes on, they start finding more reasons to drink or take drugs.

In the case of prescription medication, the user may develop a tolerance to the drug and want to increase the dosage. Their doctor may give them a higher dosage. However, soon it becomes apparent that it’s not enough. The user may find other ways to get the drug or increase the dosage

Stage 3: Dangerous and Risky Behavior

This stage generally occurs when the drug becomes an obsession and not just a side activity. The user gets to the point where they are willing to engage in risky behavior in order to use the drug.

Likewise, the drug may also lead to risky behavior because the person is stoned or high often. Risky behavior may include driving under the influence, sexual activity, or being in a dangerous environment. 

Stage 4: Dependence & Disorder

The person gets to the point where they can no longer function through the day without the substance. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or medication, the user becomes more obsessed with the substance to the point where they feel that they cannot live without it.

Eventually, the dependency leads to an addiction or substance abuse disorder. The individual will continue using the substance regardless of the consequences. In addition, the substance dominates every aspect of their life including their mental and physical health. 

Learn More About the Stages of Addiction

If you would like to learn more about the stages of addiction, then contact Right Step Hill Country. We offer comprehensive treatment for all types of addiction. Call 1.844.675.1628 to learn more about our treatment options.

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