The road to drug or alcohol addiction is not the same for every person. One person gradually gets stuck under the influence. Another person becomes addicted in a short period of time. How they get there does not change that they are in the addiction cycle.
Addiction alters brain chemistry. Any desire to stop gets overpowered by chronic and compulsive urges to continue. This sets the cycle of addiction into motion.
4 Stages of Drug and Alcohol Addiction
The journey to addiction takes a person through four stages. Not everyone who goes through the first two stages develops an addiction. Progressing to stage three increases the likelihood of becoming a full-blown addict.
Here is a look at the four main stages of addiction to alcohol or drugs.
Stage One: Experimentation
Voluntarily using drugs or drinking alcohol defines the experimentation stage. A person does not face any negative consequences legally or socially. They indulge occasionally for fun or to cope with a problem.
One person’s desire to experiment may not continue beyond this point. It could start a problem for another person who moves to the next stage.
Stage Two: Regular Use
Entering this stage or regular usage does not guarantee that a person will become an alcoholic or drug addict. Most people can stop on their own. The problem with regular use is that it increases the risk of substance abuse.
Regular use also increases risky behaviors. For example, a person may begin driving under the influence. They might show signs of anxiety. Some even begin to display unexplained violence toward others.
Stage Three: Risky Use
There is a very thin line between regular use and risky use. Continued use of controlled substances despite severe consequences defines the third stage. Temporary escape escalates to more serious problems.
Warning signs during this stage of the addiction cycle begin to appear. Some signs include:
- Preoccupation with drugs or alcohol
- Symptoms of depression
Stage Four: Dependence and Addiction
This final stage occurs when physical dependence intertwines with addiction. A person compulsively drinks or uses during this stage. They are unable to quit even when their health, finances, and relationships suffer.
Any attempt to stop causes painful withdrawal symptoms. The person will return to their substance of choice to avoid the discomfort of withdrawal.
Characteristics of the Addiction Cycle
Addiction is a chronic brain disease that affects each person in different ways. Growing tolerance means they will need more drugs or alcohol to get desired effects. Long-term use can also lead to chronic physical health conditions.
In addition, emotional and psychological changes are just as powerful as physical aspects. The addiction cycle causes a person to experience many chaotic feelings and thoughts. Dependency interferes with their mood and behaviors.
Treatment for addiction should begin as quickly as possible. The person has a fighting chance with compassionate expert care.
Choose Crestview Recovery to End Your Cycle of Addiction
Crestview Recovery understands how emotionally and physically exhausting addiction is for you. We have a variety of services for your long-term recovery.
Our treatment programs include:
Finally, don’t stay imprisoned by the addiction cycle. Call us today at 866.262.0531 to begin the path to sobriety.