The Four Stages of Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Many are not aware of the four stages of drug and alcohol addiction.The misuse of alcohol and drugs has become prevalent in our current society, and often we turn a blind eye to overuse and abuse. The following are four stages of addiction.

Stage One – Drug Experimentation

Drug experimentation is classified as the use of drugs, alcohol or other illicit substances purely for the purpose of experimenting. Many parents and friends chalk this behavior off as normal, citing their own wild youth. But what can appear as non-abusive experimentation can often result in self harm or cause safety issues for others. For example, driving while under the influence, even the first time, can have tragic consequences. Drinking while pregnant puts the fetus at risk. If parents are using, drug paraphernalia or poor judgement could cause injury to children. If drug or alcohol experimentation continues unaddressed, dangerous habits of abuse can occur.

Stage Two – Regular or Social Use

Using drugs or alcohol in social situation, alone or in combination, can start dangerous habits. This can be considered abuse if it causes any kind of harm to either the casual user or others. Because regular use is often considered to be part of a teenager or adults normal social scene, it can lead to the next stage, problem use.

Stage Three – Problem Use

This stage includes use of drugs or alcohol that are distinctly risky, such as binge drinking and drug overuse and abuse. Binge drinking is defined by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) as consuming 5 or more drinks during one event at least 1 time during a month. Substance abuse, particularly illicit drugs, is defined as the presence of dysfunction directly related to a users intake of alcohol or other drugs. The U.S Department of Health or HHS describes substance abuse as the following; β€œThe use of a psychoactive drug to such an extent that its effects seriously interfere with health or occupational and social functioning.”

Many binge users view their use as acceptable, citing that they only go overboard on the weekends. The truth is that weekend abuse carries over and interrupts everyday function on a basic level.

Stage Four – Addiction and Dependency

Addiction is defined as a disease where the substances have controlled and changed behavior, physical health and mental abilities. Despite the overwhelmingly negative consequences of drug or alcohol abuse, individuals become slaves to their addictions. There is substantial evidence that addiction and addictive behaviors have a hereditary component. Addiction is the unrelenting craving and desire for drugs, coupled with increased drug tolerance and withdrawal when substance is not used.

No matter what phase your friend or loved one is in, we can help point you in the right direction. Contact The Recovery Center Network today to speak to one of our representatives about individualized treatment programs available.