stages of addiction

As a luxury drug and alcohol rehab in Palm Beach, we know that addiction doesn’t typically happen overnight. It’s a gradual process that usually begins with curiosity or as a result of trauma or mental illness. Addiction is the result of long-term drug or alcohol abuse that slowly changes the individual’s mind and body. As their dependence becomes more severe, the individual may exhibit certain psychological and behavioral changes. To better understand the progression of substance abuse disorders, we’re answering a commonly asked question, “What are the stages of addiction?”

What Are the 5 Stages of Addiction?

The stages of addiction display the linear progression that addicts experience when engaging in substance abuse. The duration of each step may vary depending on the person and the substance in question. While there is some debate on the process of addiction in stages and how many stages there are, the progression of this disease can be broken up into five solid stages.

1. Experimentation

The first stage of addiction is experimentation, which refers to the first time a person uses drugs or alcohol. There are various reasons why a person would begin drinking or using drugs, but some of the most common include peer pressure, curiosity, boredom, and as a coping method for trauma. Trying drugs or drinking one time doesn’t guarantee that the individual will become addicted. Many people only drink or use drugs once because they’ve satisfied their curiosity or didn’t enjoy the side effects. The decision to continue using drugs or alcohol also depends on drug availability, the environment, and whether there’s any family history of addiction.

As repeated usage can cause tolerance and dependency, which can eventually turn into addiction, the experimental stage can be dangerous. Individuals must be informed of the hazards and repercussions of experimentation, and they must seek assistance if they or someone they know is having addiction problems.

2. Regular Use

As the individual continues to experiment with drugs or alcohol, the habit becomes normal. During the second stage of addiction, regular use of drugs or alcohol refers to a consistent pattern in which the person engages in substance abuse. This doesn’t have to be every day, it could be every other day or even a week, but the fact that a pattern has developed is the focus. Many people begin this pattern when they drink or use drugs during times of emotional distress or on the weekends to relax. In this stage, social drug users and drinkers may begin to engage in substance abuse when they’re alone.

This is also the stage of addiction in which a person’s substance abuse may become evident and cause problems in other areas of their life. For example, a person who’s becoming dependent on alcohol may begin showing up hungover at school or work. While addiction is not yet solidified in this stage, this person is more likely to continuously reach for alcohol as they develop a psychological dependence on it.

3. Abuse

In stage three of addiction, the person’s regular use of drugs or alcohol has become more severe and regularly impacts the person’s life. The incidents that are common for people in stage three of addiction, like showing up hungover to work every once in a while, become a regular occurrence in stage four. This is one of the stages of alcohol addiction during which DUIs are common occurrences, and drinking becomes more apparent to friends, families, and coworkers. A person’s finances may also be severely affected at this stage of addiction.

Some of the most common signs of addiction to look out for in a drug or alcohol user include:

  • Frequently borrowing or stealing money
  • Hiding drugs where they can be easily accessed (in mint tins or pockets)
  • Denying their drug or alcohol use
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, and home
  • Doctor shopping or hopping between doctors for more prescriptions
  • Sudden change in their friend group
  • Loss of interest in activities the person once enjoyed

At this stage of addiction, the person’s loved ones may realize what’s happening. If you want to help a loved one recover from addiction, we can help. Seaside Palm Beach offers various luxury addiction programs that cover different types of substance abuse disorders.

4. Dependence and Tolerance

The fourth stage of addiction is characterized by the person’s inability to deny drugs or alcohol. Not being able to say “no,” even when they realize the problems their substance abuse is causing, is one of the signs they’ve hit rock bottom in addiction. At this point, the individual has already developed a tolerance to their substance of choice, which has caused them to use drugs and alcohol more frequently. As this pattern of behavior persists, they eventually become dependent on drinking or drugs to get through their day.

At this stage of addiction, the individual’s body has become accustomed to this substance. If the person suddenly stops drinking or using drugs at this point, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. We usually begin our patients’ treatment plans with a luxury detox because the symptoms of withdrawal can be uncomfortable, painful, and even life-threatening if they aren’t medically managed. Individuals who don’t seek help for their addiction or withdrawals may continue using drugs or alcohol simply to avoid withdrawals. Psychological dependence has also become severe at this point. This is characterized by the person’s belief that they can’t function without drugs or alcohol. They may also have become emotionally attached to the substance in question because they’ve used it during times of difficulty.

5. Addiction

Dependence and addiction are very different. When a person’s dependence has developed into an addiction, they no longer have a choice in whether they use drugs or drink. People in the last stages of drug addiction feel as if they can’t live without drugs. They’ve lost complete control of their actions, which is why addiction is considered a disease. Individuals in this phase of addiction are often in denial about their problems. However, there is help available.

Recovering From Addiction is Possible

While there is no cure for a substance use disorder, it can be treated, and long-term sobriety is possible. No matter how long a person has battled addiction, it is never too late to overcome it. Although recovering from addiction can be a challenging and intimidating task, it is always achievable with the correct tools, support, and dedication. Even after years or decades of drug usage or addictive habits, many people have overcome addiction in later life. Every action taken in the direction of sobriety and a healthier lifestyle counts as progress in the recovery process, which can be started at any time.

A variety of tools that are available should be offered to assist people in overcoming addiction, including detoxification programs, therapy and counseling, support groups, and medical care. These resources can assist people in addressing the root cause of addiction, learning new coping mechanisms, and creating a solid support system. It’s crucial to keep in mind that healing is a journey that may include obstacles and setbacks along the road. However, it is always possible to achieve long-lasting recovery and lead a good life in sobriety with persistence and assistance.

At our high-end rehab, we offer luxury residential addiction treatment in Palm Beach that separates patients from their environment and provides 24-hour care, allowing patients to focus on their recovery. We’ve helped countless individuals change their lives and achieve their recovery goals. Our team is dedicated to helping each patient regain control of their lives.

If you or someone you know has developed an addiction, call us now at 561-677-9374 to learn more about addiction recovery programs offered at Seaside Palm Beach.

Related Reading:

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Anhedonia and Addiction

Is Sugar More Addictive Than Cocaine?


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