The Four Stages of Drug Addiction: How to Recognize the Warning Signs

Aug 16, 2022

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It’s no secret that drug addiction is a significant issue in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, ‘drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.’

Almost 12% of Americans over the age of 12 use illegal drugs. This number is only increasing as time goes on.

So, what are the stages of drug addiction? How can you tell if someone you love is struggling with this disease? Keep reading to find out.

1) Experimentation

It is the first stage of addiction, and it typically starts with trying a drug out of curiosity. People in this stage may not be aware that they’re doing anything wrong – after all, they’re just trying something new.

However, experimentation can quickly turn into substance abuse. For example, someone who experiments with drugs may start using them more frequently. They may also start using them in different ways, such as injecting them instead of taking them orally.

2) Regular Use

Once someone begins using a substance regularly, they may exhibit different behaviors. They may start missing work or school, as well as necessary appointments. Their hygiene and eating habits may change, and they may become more withdrawn from friends and family. It is the second stage of addiction.

In this second stage, the person may also start to build up a tolerance to the substance. It means they need more and more of the drug to get the desired effect. They may start using the substance more often or in larger quantities.

3) Dependence

When someone is dependent on drugs, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit. These symptoms can be physical, such as headaches and nausea, or psychological, such as anxiety and depression. Dependence differs from tolerance because the person needs to keep taking the drug to feel normal.

Dependence typically leads to addiction, characterized by an inability to control drug use despite the negative consequences. People addicted to drugs will continue to use them even if it means losing their job, destroying their relationships, or endangering their health. They may also engage in risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence, to get the needed drugs.

4) Addiction

Every day, 136 people die from an opioid overdose in the United States, including prescription and illicit opioid drugs. Addiction is the final and most dangerous stage of an opioid use disorder. People addicted to opioids cannot control their drug use and will continue to use it despite its negative consequences.

Addiction is a medical condition when your brain, body, and life revolve around a drug. You can’t get through the day without it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease. It’s by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and use despite negative consequences.

For the best alcohol and drug addiction treatment in Greenville, SC, contact Vertical Treatment Centers. Our evidence-based programs are designed to help you achieve lasting sobriety.

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