Steps Of Abuse To Addiction. Beginning To End: A Primer

Stages of Addiction Few people take their first dose of a drug-- legal or illegal-- with the hope of getting addicted. Yet 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 rapidly addiction can take hold and with the quantity consumed before crossing the invisible line from freedom to slavery.

While each individual case may be different in time frame and ferocity of dependency, a few patterns are standard among the complete pool of substance abusers. From the accounts of addicts and those who treat them, clinicians are able to single out benchmarks for the stages of substance addiction.

Experimenting With Substances

Experimentation may have several different motivations. For young people, peer pressure is a top factor in taking their first drag, drink or snort. On the other hand, addiction need not begin in youth. A middle-aged or older person may try prescription pain killers to manage persistent discomforts and aches. Even seniors may use alcohol consumption or substances to take the edge off loneliness. These represent significant moments in a person's life when a drug is used to force a physical, emotional or social ailment a little bit more bearable. Disconnected instances of use might or might not be followed up with greater frequentness or amounts. With no realistic self evaluation an honest analysis of the indicators of drug addiction an individual might move unwittingly into the more intense stages of drug addiction.

Consistent Use

Using a drug or other people substance on a consistent basis does not necessarily lead an individual into addiction. Some can consume a substance continuously for a period of time and then end its use with little or no discomfort. Should the time-span extends indefinitely and the potency of dosages rise also, prescribed usage might transform into drug addiction.

Dangerous Usage

As the stages of drug addiction are passed through, the user's personal choices and conduct become progressively more hazardous, both to herself or himself and other people. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 28.4 percent of young people in between the ages of 21 and 25 drove under the influence of illegal substances in 2009.

• Driving a vehicle while under the influence of a sedative • Spending cash irresponsibly to obtain the drug • Defensiveness in verbal exchanges • Secretiveness • Changes in look. Adjustments in desire for food, memory failure and deteriorating coordination are also warning signs of substance abuse. The line of demarcation seperating unsafe consumption and dependency is thin and difficult to differentiate. Getting help for yourself or another person you care about should not be put off at this stage.


Of all the stages of substance dependence, addiction and use are the most difficult to distinguish. The devastating repercussions of drug abuse are already evident in addiction. For instance, the dependent individual is frequently absent from their job because of repetitive consumption of the controlling compound. Beyond the employer, the substance abuser may occasionally allow obligations to family members, friends, neighbors and society go by the wayside. The high-risk tendencies noted above become a lot more regular as well. Through it all, though, the dependent differs from the addict by satisfying enough commitments to preserve the essential framework of his/her life. The direction of drug abuse phases is still headed downward, the semblance of normalcy lingers.


If changes are not initiated-- and aid is not found-- the stages of drug addiction lead to the most dangerous stage: addiction itself. Now the person is mentally and physically bonded to continual use of the substance or alcohol. The point of brain disease is reached and the victim is prone to several harmful consequences of long-term substance abuse. At this intensity, the patient pursuing freedom from addiction will need to undergo detoxing. Given that the addiction is of both mind and body, withdrawal manifestations are most effectively overseen and treated by experienced healthcare professionals. Once the addictive substance has exited the body, the drug abuser can work with pyschologists to determine the root causes and nature of the addiction. Systematic and honest therapy with mental health professionals, blended with frequent participation in a support group has helped numerous outwardly irreparable addicts to daily lives without chemical abuse.

Without a realistic self-assessment-- an sincere assessment of the signs of drug addiction-- a person can pass unknowingly into the more severe stages of drug addiction. Taking a drug or other substance on a routine basis does not inevitably lead a person into addiction. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 28.4 percent of young people between the ages of 21 and 25 drove under the influence of illicit drugs in 2009. Of all the stages of drug dependence, use and addiction are the toughest to differentiate. If changes are not initiated-- and help is not secured-- the stages of substance addiction lead to the most harmful stage: addiction itself.

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