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Learning The Stages Of Drug Addiction



One of the biggest problems with drug addiction is the fact that people don’t always recognize they are becoming addicted until well after the damage is done. People rarely try a drug for the first time and suddenly become addicted. Rather, it is a process and if people are unaware of that process, they will be more susceptible to addictions damaging effects.

Luckily many treatments and rehabilitation centers agree on four major phases that lead to drug addiction. They are experimentation, regular use, risky use or abuse, and dependency, or addiction. The following four sections will provide an explanation of the stage followed by an example of someone who is going through this phase. Understanding these stages is an essential part of avoiding drug addiction.

1. Experimentation

During this stage, the person uses drugs because they are curious. They are able to do so without experiencing any social or legal consequences. Often time’s people will try a drug in an attempt to rid themselves of another problem such as anxiety or depression.

Example: Brian is a teenager whose parents recently went through a divorce. He is having a hard time coping with the separation and one day is invited to a party where people are smoking marijuana. Brian decides to try it out of curiosity and because he heard it helps you take your mind off problems. After he tries it for the first time he realizes that the pain he felt over his parent’s divorce completely went away.

2. Regular Use

During this stage, people will start using the substance on a regular basis to cope with their problems. They may be able to use the drug without developing an addiction to it. This phase greatly increases the chances of substance abuse and risky use.

Example: Brian starts smoking marijuana on a regular basis. Some weeks, however, he decides not to because of a family event or a soccer game. He has control over when he wants to use the drug but tries to do it as much as possible.

3. Risky Use/Abuse

The difference between this stage and the regular use stage is that the user will start using the substance regardless of the consequences. While before the person had complete control over their use, now the first signs of addiction start appearing. They start participating in dangerous activities such as driving under the influence of the substance.

Example: Brian wants to start using the drug more and more to deal with the problems in his home. He starts smoking every week regardless of what is going on that week. His performance on the soccer team changes and his family starts to notice something is wrong. He even starts smoking during the week sometimes and is unable to do his homework very well.

4. Addiction/Dependency

A physiological change takes place in the person and all they can think about is using the drug. The person uses the substance regardless of the consequences.

Example: Brian’s coach realizes that he isn’t trying very hard and cuts him from the team. Brian even starts showing up to school on the drug and his grades plummet. He tries to get out of family events and just spend time by himself. His family, grades and sports performances don’t matter to him at all anymore. All that matters is getting more and more of the drug and escaping as often as he can. He has become dependant.