As scientists learn more about addiction, their knowledge improves treatment methods. One common pattern in substance abuse is that of the three stages of addiction. These stages show how addiction develops and continues. By understanding the stages, it’s possible to use the knowledge for a better chance of lasting sobriety.

How Addiction Happens

woman looking out the window considers stages of addictionIf you suffer a drug or alcohol addiction, you know it can set in very rapidly. On the other hand, it can happen slowly, developing over many weeks or even years of substance abuse. Some people move quickly from their first use into addiction. This can be a result of their own level of substance abuse or the drug being so addictive it rapidly takes over their life. Before they know it, they’re a drug addict.

Obviously you never planned on developing an addiction. There are many factors that got you here. These factors include your genetics, age, environment, health, brain biology, family history and other issues. You also developed addiction based on your reasons for using drugs or alcohol in the first place.

Someone who drinks alcohol casually at a party may never experience addiction. But another person who drinks to feel more social or attractive is likely to struggle with addiction problems.

Addiction officially sets in when you continue using drugs or alcohol despite the problems they cause for you. Your life will spin out of control and everyone around you can see the addiction.

For others, substance abuse hasn’t destroyed relationships or aspects of life yet, so the problem may not be clear. This early stage addiction is easier to treat and easier to overcome. Sadly, being in denial about the problem means a rough journey before rehab.

Three Stages of Addiction

There are three stages of addiction. The earlier you catch your addiction and seek treatment, the better your chance for stable, healthy recovery. If you or someone you love denies treatment early in the stages, recovery requires more work and may not happen until “rock bottom.” No matter where you are in the stages of addiction, getting treatment is the key to ending your addiction and having a real chance at a better life.

Stage One: Preoccupation and Anticipation

The first signs of addiction include cravings for the drugs or alcohol. Cravings create an overwhelming desire to use the substance, despite what you’re experiencing in your life. Cravings come along with irritability, agitation, sleeplessness, depression and difficulty concentrating. This is the stage where life and behaviors fall out of balance.

Stage Two: Binging and Intoxication

In the second stage, you need more of the substance to gain the same effects. This means binging on drugs or alcohol and reaching dangerous levels of intoxication. You also become desensitized to your substance of choice. This greatly increases your risk of overdose.

Stage Three: Withdrawal and Negative Effects

You go through many changes as part of drug or alcohol addiction. Substances you use change your moods and behaviors. If you stop using, you go through symptoms of withdrawal.

Withdrawal symptoms vary according to the substance you use. But common signs of withdrawal include:

  • Headaches, dizziness, chills, sweating
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping
  • Agitation, depression, anxiety, paranoia
  • Fatigue, sleeplessness, muscle pain, shakiness
  • Psychosis

Withdrawal symptoms are the bane of people’s existence at this stage. Most people will do anything they can to avoid withdrawal, no matter the consequences.

Addiction at Any Stage Means You Need Treatment

No matter which stage of addiction you’re in, you need treatment. Only through rehabilitation can you gain lasting recovery from drugs and alcohol.

In Portland, Oregon, Crestview Recovery provides drug and alcohol treatment for adults like you. You can enjoy peer support in your journey to sobriety as part of Crestview Recovery’s programs, including:

You can find your way back through the stages of addiction to sobriety. You just need the right help. Call Crestview Recovery now at 866-580-4160 for the addiction help you need in the Pacific Northwest.