Counseling Tips & News

Identifying the Stages of Addiction

People do not become addicts overnight. Instead there are four specific stages that result in the disease. Understanding the signs that occur when someone becomes addicted helps you understand, cope and, hopefully, assist the individual. The more you know about substance abuse issues, the more likely you will be successful in communicating with the addict and getting him/her into a recovery program.

Identifying the Stages of Addiction

Experimentation is the first stage of the process by which someone becomes addicted to a legal or illicit substance. You might notice that your friend or family member stays out later, socializes with new people and is not forthcoming with details of his nights out. Many times there are no noticeable signs of a developing addiction, and, for many people, this experimentation does not result in abuse.

Regular use of a mind-altering substance marks the second stage of addiction. This consistent use begins to show itself in patterns as it becomes ritualized. At this point, your loved one might engage in risky behavior such as driving while under the influence of a substance. He often reacts irritably, becomes less dependable and make some poor decisions.

When the person reaches the third stage of addiction, he continues to use/abuse despite serious ramifications. His regular use increases to the point that he is unable to function well in society. He might be arrested in connection to his substance use/abuse (for impaired driving or possession). This is the stage in which close personal relationships dissolve, loss of employment often occurs and abusers result to extreme means to obtain their drug of choice.

In the fourth and final stage, physical addiction is apparent with the user experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not able to obtain the drug in a specific time period. The addict continues to compulsively use despite continued and worsening ramifications of that use. Significant changes have occurred in the user’s brain and body. Attempts to abstain completely from the drug can result in death due to chemical dependency. Comprehensive medical treatment is necessary at this time for the addict to successfully recover. Contact us to discover helpful therapy and counseling programs in the Greater Dallas area.