There are stages of addiction. It doesn’t just all happen at once. No one becomes addicted after their first sip of wine. There have been many people who have claimed after the first hit of a certain drug that they knew that was it for them. But that was not the first time they tried alcohol or drugs. There were stages to get them to that point. While most people are familiar with the first stage, almost everyone has tried something when they were young. Only those with an addiction problem will make it past the third stage. Knowing that there are stages of addiction and understanding that progressing past the initial stages will lead to a more serious relationship with substances allows you to keep track of where to draw the line or, in some cases, blow right past it.
If you have moved into the later stages of addiction, you may want to reach out to a substance abuse treatment program and get the help you need. Contact Greater Boston Addiction Centers at 877.920.6583 for information about our addiction rehab programs and how they can help.
The 7 Stages of Addiction
An addiction is a long process that takes place over time, not overnight. Just like many things in life, there is a beginning, middle, and end. The seven stages of addiction are:
Stage 1: Initiation
This is where you try a substance for the first time. Your first beer, your first cigarette, your first hit off a joint, it all starts somewhere. Most people with an addiction will have made that first move before they turned 18. And by 20, they have already developed a substance use disorder with their drug of choice.
Stage 2: Experimentation
This is when you turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve stress or are in a social situation where others are using. There is no dependency at this stage, and if your use never moves past experimentation, then there is little to be concerned about unless you are in your teen years and your brain is still developing.
Stage 3: Regular Use
Regular use does not mean daily use, at least not for everyone. It may simply mean having a few beers on the weekend. But those few beers are something you would miss if you didn’t have them. Rather than dependency, this is a pattern of behavior forming. A mental reliance on your drug of choice has begun.
Stage 4: Risky Use
This is where the behavior becomes noticeable and becomes a problem. Showing up to work with a hangover may happen in stage three, but now this type of behavior is becoming a regular thing. At this stage, you are trying to hide your use and have become ashamed and embarrassed enough to worry about what people think of your substance use.
Stage 5: Dependence
You now have a serious problem. You know it. Others know it. Psychological dependence may develop before a physical one. Marijuana is more psychologically dependent than physical, even for people who smoke daily. Prescription medication is a drug that people become psychologically dependent on before physical dependence takes over.
Stage 6: Addiction
Once you have an addiction, it is no longer a conscious choice to use drugs. You can’t stop yourself even if you know there will be negative consequences. At this point, you may not be fully aware of your behavior anymore, the decline being what it is.
Stage 7: Crisis or Treatment
The choice now is either to enter a treatment facility or continue the downward spiral, which will lead to physical ailments like cancer and organ failure and potential legal and financial problems related to your addiction. This is a critical point and one of the most important choices a person can make for themselves.
Reach Out to Greater Boston Addiction Centers for Effective and Compassionate Treatment Today
Addiction does not happen overnight. There are seven stages that get progressively worse if you do not curtail your use or end it. At GBAC, we don’t care what stage you are at, just that we can offer you help if you’re willing to help yourself. We can be reached via our online contact form or at 877.920.6583 when you are ready to take the first step on your journey to wellness and recovery.