Stages Of Addiction: First to Last

Stages of Addiction Few people take their first dose of a drug-- legal or illegal-- with the hope of getting addicted. For 2009, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that 23.5 million people sought some form of treatment for drug and alcohol problems. Of course, individual physiology and psychological makeup have much to do with how swiftly addiction can take hold and with the amount consumed before passing the unseen threshold from freedom to slavery.

While every distinct instance may differ in time frame and intensity of dependency, certain patterns are widespread within the complete pool of drug abusers. Through the accounts of addicts and those who care for them, researchers are able to identify benchmarks for the phases of drug addiction.

Experimenting With Drugs

Experimentation may have several different motivations. For young people, peer pressure is a top reason for taking their initial puff, drink or snort. That being said, addiction need not begin in youth. A middle-aged or older individual may try prescribed pain killers to remedy chronic aches and discomfort. Even seniors may take drinking or substances to take the edge off isolation. These represent critical moments in life when a substance is used to initiate a bodily, emotional or social malady a bit more bearable. Disconnected instances of use may or may not be continued with greater frequency or amounts. With no realistic self-assessment a truthful evaluation of the indicators of drug addiction a person might move unwittingly into the more acute stages of drug addiction.

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Consistent Consumption

Taking a drug or other people substance on a regular basis does not always lead an individual into addiction. Some can use a substance regularly for a period of time and after that end its consumption with negligible discomfort. Should the timeframe extends indefinitely and the potency of dosages rise also, routine usage can change into substance addiction.

Dangerous Use

As the stages of drug addiction are passed through, the individual's personal choices and conduct get increasingly hazardous, both to herself or himself and other people. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health declared that 28.4 percent of young adults in between the ages of 21 and 25 drove a vehicle under the influence of illicit substances in 2009.

• Driving a vehicle while under the influence of a sedative • Spending cash recklessly to obtain the drug • Defensive during conversation • Hiding things • Adjustments in appearance. Adjustments in appetite, memory failure and worsening fine motor skills are also manifestations of substance abuse. The demarcation line seperating unsafe use and dependence is difficult and thin to differentiate. Finding help for yourself or a person you love ought not be put off at this stage.


Of all the stages of drug use, addiction and dependence are the most difficult to separate. The destructive repercussions of substance abuse are clearly apparent in dependency. Through all of this, though, the dependent stands apart from the addict by meeting enough responsibilities to maintain the fundamental structure of his/her life. Although the direction of drug abuse stages remains headed downward, the appearance of normalcy persists.


If changes are not initiated-- and assistance is not looked for-- the stages of substance addiction result in the most grievous stage: addiction itself. Here the user is psychologically and physically bound to ongoing consumption of the substance or alcohol. The point of brain disorders is reached and the patient undergoes numerous harmful consequences of prolonged drug abuse. The cardiovascular system and blood circulation process may be compromised, as can the respiratory tract. The immune system is weakened, permitting hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, and several kinds of cancer to ravage the addict. Brain damage and dementia can also occur. At this depth, the person desiring freedom from addiction should go through detoxing. Because the addiction is of both body and mind, withdrawal manifestations are most effectively overseen and cared for by seasoned medical professionals. After the addictive substance has exited the body, the drug abuser should work with mental health professionals to determine the root causes and character of the addiction. Systematic and honest treatment options with mental health professionals, blended with regular attendance in a self-help group has led many ostensibly irreparable addicts to lives devoid of chemical abuse.

Without a sober self-assessment-- an trustworthy assessment of the signs of drug addiction-- a person could pass unwittingly into the more severe stages of drug addiction. Using a drug or other substance on a routine basis does not always entrap someone into addiction. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 28.4 percent of young adults in between the ages of 21 and 25 drove a vehicle under the influence of illegal drugs in 2009. Of all the stages of drug dependence, addiction and use are the most difficult to differentiate. If adjustments are not initiated-- and assistance is not secured-- the stages of substance addiction lead to the most grievous stage: addiction itself.

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