Stages of Addiction

Understanding the stages of addiction is crucial for recognizing and addressing substance abuse issues effectively. These stages provide insight into how a person develops from initial use to chronic substance abuse and help guide treatment interventions. This article discusses the different stages of addiction and the mental disorders that can co-occur during addiction.

Transcend Recovery Community is a sober living company based in Los Angeles that offers various services to help individuals overcome addiction. Regardless of which stage of addiction you’re in, we can provide the proper assistance you need to overcome drug addiction and become the better version of you. Contract Transcend Recovery Community today.

The States of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic mental health disorder that affects the brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex, and the behavior of an individual, which can lead to an inability to control the use of legal or illegal drugs or medication. It’s a complex condition that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences.

The states of addiction refer to the various stages or phases that an individual goes through when developing an addiction, and these states are as follows:

Stage # 1: Initial Use

This is the first stage of addiction, and it marks the beginning of the addiction cycle. This stage is characterized by a person experimenting with a substance for the first time.

Various factors can drive an individual to turn to substance use, including peer pressure, curiosity, or cultural influences. Individuals may not fully anticipate or understand the negative consequences of their actions, as it can lead to continued drug use.

Stage # 2: Regular Drug Use

man in a room having addiction problems and is looking to be problematic

The next stage in the cycle is regular drug use, which involves repeated substance use over a long period. During this stage, the person increases the amount of drug more than what the person originally planned after that person develops a tolerance to the substance.

Despite emerging signs of negative consequences, the person persists in using the substance regularly. This illustrates the progression of substance abuse and the development of substance use disorder.

Stage # 3: Risky Drug Abuse

Risky drug use or abuse involves increased substance consumption despite experiencing harmful effects on one’s physical health, mental well-being, and personal relationships. At this stage, the person may engage in hazardous behaviors while under the influence, which can jeopardize their safety and that of others.

Stage # 4: Dependence

Drug dependence develops when the body adapts to the presence of a substance. This adaptation results in physical and psychological dependence. Individuals experiencing this stage often encounter withdrawal symptoms when they try to reduce or stop substance use, which compels them to continue consumption to avoid discomfort.

How Physical and Psychological Dependence Manifest in Substance Use Disorders?

Physical Dependence

  • Mild Substance Use Disorder
  • Among the effects that individuals can experience include a mild tolerance from the drug, which results in slightly higher doses over time. If the individual experiences any withdrawal symptoms, they are usually mild and manageable.
  • Severe Substance Use Disorder
  • The individual experiences a significant increase in tolerance from substance misuse, which leads to higher doses to achieve the desired effects. The withdrawal symptoms from the drug are severe. If left without proper management, these symptoms can be life-threatening.

Psychological Dependence

  • Mild Substance Use Disorder
  • There is a moderate emotional or mental urge to use the substance, which is often driven by social or situational factors. Any drug cravings may occur but are not overpowering.
  • Severe Substance Use Disorder
  • Individuals experience intense cravings and a strong compulsion to use the substance, which can often lead to irrational decision-making. Psychological dependence on the substance is a key factor behind continued use despite negative consequences.

Stage # 5: Drug Addiction/ Alcohol Addiction

Addiction represents the pinnacle of the addiction stages. It is characterized by a compulsive need to engage in substance misuse or drink alcohol despite being fully aware of the negative consequences.

At this stage, the individual's ability to control their drug use is severely impaired. Substance craving dominates their thoughts and behaviors, often leading them into trouble.

Stage # 6: Drug or Alcohol Tolerance

Tolerance develops as the body adapts to the substance, which requires an individual to take higher doses to achieve the desired effects. This phenomenon contributes to the cycle of addiction, as individuals escalate their consumption to overcome diminishing impacts, which can heighten the risk of overdose and other adverse outcomes.

In cases of prescription drug misuse, such as with a prescription painkiller, tolerance can develop rapidly. This can lead to increased dosage decisions that may exacerbate the risk of addiction and mental health issues. This cycle underscores the complexities of substance abuse and the importance of early intervention to prevent heavy substance abuse and its associated consequences.

Stage # 7: Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms manifest when an individual goes cold turkey or abruptly reduces or ceases substance use after developing dependence. These symptoms can be physically and psychologically distressing to most individuals, thus, motivating them to continue the use of drugs to alleviate the discomfort caused by stopping.

Stage # 8: Chronic Substance Abuse

Chronic substance abuse is the final stage of the addiction cycle, where substance use disorder becomes a chronic disease. At this point, overcoming addiction usually requires comprehensive treatment programs tailored to address the complex interplay of physical dependence, psychological factors, and environmental triggers.

Can Addiction Co-occur with Other Mental Health Disorders?

Yes, addiction can co-occur with other mental health disorders. This phenomenon is also known as dual diagnosis or comorbidity. Individuals struggling with addiction may also experience mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The relationship between addiction and mental health disorders is complex and bidirectional, as each condition can influence the development and progression of the other disorder. For example, substance abuse can worsen symptoms of mental health disorders, and vice versa.

Is Addiction Treatment Possible?

Yes, addiction treatment is possible and essential for individuals struggling with alcohol dependence or substance use disorders. There are various treatment programs that aim to help individuals overcome addiction and maintain long-term sobriety, including detox, therapy, support groups, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Different Treatment Programs for Addiction Recovery

There are several treatment programs for individuals struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder. Here are some of them:

Outpatient Treatment — An outpatient treatment option offers the flexibility of attending therapy and counseling sessions while living at home. It’s ideal for those who have work or family commitments but still need professional support.

Individual Therapy — This involves personalized one-on-one counseling sessions with a therapist. The focus is on addressing underlying issues, developing coping strategies, and working towards recovery goals.

Group Therapy — This involves therapy sessions conducted in a group setting. Individuals facing similar challenges come together to provide mutual support, share experiences, and learn coping strategies.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy — This therapy focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors related to substance abuse. The goal is to help individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Family Therapy — This therapy involves the individual’s family members in the treatment process. The aim is to improve communication, address family dynamics, and provide support for both the individual and their loved ones.

How Can Transcend Recovery Community Help?

For people battling addiction, Transcend Recovery Community provides a path towards recovery and a brighter future, we offer a variety of supportive environments and programs for individuals on their recovery journey. These include sober living communities and sober apartment living, which provide structured living arrangements, peer support, and access to resources.

Our programs are designed to help individuals maintain sobriety while transitioning from more intensive treatment settings. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out to Transcend Recovery Community today. It’s not too late to seek help and start on a new path.

Transcend Recovery Community

Transcend Recovery Community family of sober living homes provides a safe place for those undergoing mental health and addiction treatment to live with like-minded peers. Our community-based approach to sober living (similarly to a halfway house) facilitates an open and welcoming environment, where members, staff and team can provide support and encouragement on the path to a sober and healthy life. Transcend's Los Angeles sober living homes are located in some of the most iconic areas of the city, filled with luxurious and upscale amenities, providing plenty to do for those in our transitional housing community.

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