the stages of addiction

How to Recognize the Stages of Addiction

Have you ever had a friend who couldn’t “relax” until she’d had a drink? What about the guy who insisted he “didn’t need” a drink every night, he just wanted one. Or the friend that was “not addicted” to drugs, just liked to occasionally party?

Chances are, you are dealing with an addict. If you can learn to recognize the stages of addiction, you’ll have a better understanding of what you are up against.

The Fun of a New Rush

There are lots of reasons someone might first try alcohol and drugs—social peer pressure, a desire for release from the stress of “real life,” an unrealistic expectation that increased creativity may occur after consumption. Whatever the reason, the reality is that chemical reactions create a false sense of euphoria upon consumption. That sensation is what keeps the user coming back, wanting to experience that euphoria again. For many, this first stage may only happen once, but a user may return time and time again, trying to re-experience it.

Not so Fun Anymore

The second and third stages of addiction may come on quickly; one may cycle between them. As referenced in the above article, you may crave, and even try to quit, but be unable to do so. You can spot this in your friend, family member, or even yourself, when you find yourself working life around consumption of the drug. Do you feel bad when you don’t have it, but also bad when you do? That’s likely the second stage of addiction. Chemical alterations in the brain have occurred and the user is on a vicious cycle: euphoria, crash, withdrawal, going back. The cycle spirals downward out of control: highs are not so high and lows are lower.

Do you decide to quit, but then feel unable to follow through with the decision? Is it put off until after an endless list of tomorrows? You or your loved one have likely entered the third stage of addiction. In this dangerous place, one’s decision making skills are greatly reduced. It doesn’t just affect you anymore. Loved ones notice. Working is more difficult, if it happens at all.

The first step toward any solution is recognition that you have a problem. If you can recognize the stages of addiction, in yourself or others, get help. Don’t put it off any longer.

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