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The 4 Stages Of Addiction And How To Recover From Them

Regardless of age, race and gender addiction has affected from all walks of life since the beginning of times. Specifically drug use and drug abuse have been persistent problems in the society, affecting the mental health along with the physical health of users. Substance abuse is a problem which can be avoided with proper treatment, recovery may take a long time but its very much possible.

What is Drug Addiction

Addiction is a disease of the brain, unlike popular belief substance use and substance abuse are two different things. Where the latter, stems from use which is either recreational or a prescription drug. Regular use of drugs legal or illegal is done by a vast number of people, but soon it develops into a drug addiction which affects the brain and the behavior of the abuser. Drug addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive drug use, their is always a constant urge to consume without any regard for your mental health and physical health, financial condition, family problems and loved ones.

Drug use or substance use; however is a slightly different thing, where the user is using illegal or legal substances in ways they shouldn’t use them. Often times this stage involves using drugs recreationally or for relaxation but the user is not addicted to them and can stop using them at any time as he wishes. This regular use often leads to the addiction from where recovery and treatment become necessary.

Four Stages of Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a gradual process, there are primarily four stages of drug use that leas to use disorders. The progression of the user depends on the kind of drugs used and his own capacity; however, recovery from this addiction is possible at any of these stages with proper treatment.

Stage 1: Experimentation

Just a casual Saturday night, when one friend comes up with the wild suggestion of trying drugs. From Marijuana to LSD it could be anything because all you are doing is just an experiment to see how it makes you feel. Others may have different reasons for trying out a drug but this is what we call the stage 1 of drug addiction. Occasional use on a voluntary basis is one of those stages where the user feels in control, what they fail to understand is the power of drugs and how they make you feel after. That feeling of relief is what pulls you back and eventually leads to stages of dependency. This is the first step towards addiction.

Stage 2: Regular Use

You may have tried out of curiosity, but the high and the feeling of euphoria is what pushes you to the second stage of addiction. Nobody wants to let go of anything that makes them feel happy, relaxed, relives cramps, reduces stress or helps them sleep better. This can be rightfully called the make or break stage, many people move to dependency from this stage but it is still possible for many people to stop using at this point too depending on their will and self control.

In many situations the regular use is also due to the social circle of the user, so always keep an eye out for family and friends who don’t have the best company or start showing changes in their behavior. Stage 2 is pivotal to addiction.

Stage 3: Risk-Taking Drug Use

At this point the drugs have started making a negative impact on your life. The addiction has now advanced on to a whole new level. Stage 3 represents that phase where the user has become aware of the problem but continues to take risks and use the drug without realizing the repercussions it has on their life. The transition between these two stages occurs very quickly and may be difficult to detect both by the abuser and his family or friends.

At this stage, risks such as driving under influence, selling drugs in order to get more money and hurting your loved ones are risks that abusers easily take without any hesitation. Drugs begin to affect their judgment and performance at either their workplace or educational institute, despite these severe consequences they don’t stop using drugs. Quitting becomes almost impossible at this stage.

Stage 4: Drug Addiction and Dependency

The most dangerous and the final stage of the 4 stages is the dependency phase. Many people don’t realize that the addiction has completely taken control of their life now. Continued use of drugs have now made the abuser very resistant to the drug and a large amount is needed to feel good. Unavailability of the required drug at this stage leads to strong withdrawal symptoms and functioning without dosage becomes impossible.

Cravings are both mental and physical and if you do try to go cold turkey you may experience tremors, sweating, a rapid heart rate, seizures, nausea, muscle pain, bone pain or goose bumps depending on the drug you use. Many people get involved in criminal activities to have enough money to keep buying these drugs. A substance use disorder has developed by now, anyone who’s close to a user will be easily able to identify the symptoms of this disorder.

Stage 4 may look like the point of no return but recovery from this dependency stage is very difficult but with proper treatment and support from family and peers it is still possible to start living a sober life. During the addiction if someone is able to recognize their problem they can seek treatment and move to the recovery phase quickly. Sobriety will positively impact your mental and physical health and allow you to lead a normal life once again.

Addiction stages
Image Credits: https://www.freepik.com/natali-ploskaya

Seeking Treatment And Living A Sober Life

Seeking treatment is essential to regain control of your life. What confuses many people is that how can they get this help. Getting treatment is also a phased process where you need to first of all talk to someone, maybe your life partner, family member or anyone you trust to help you start your sober life. Then you can get into an addiction treatment recovery program which will help you heal and move on from this dark period. They will help to identify the root cause of your addiction which will ease your pathway to a sober life. Moreover, the treatment is not limited to just detoxing a counselor/ therapist will make your transition to normal life smooth.

Benefits Of Sobriety

Sobriety is beneficial to you in multiple ways. Namely the physical benefits of sobriety are greater than everything else; nonetheless, mental health improvement, work performance and academic performance are equally important. Addiction can potentially change the course of your whole life, so once you are sober your life will change once again only this time in a positive way.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Sobriety

One of the best advantages of sobriety is a clear and focused mind, you will once more regained control your life and set it in a direction you wanted to. Your path is no longer driven by the drugs you use. Some of the health benefits are as follows :

  • Decreased risk of long-term health issues including cancer.
  • Healthier and radiant skin with better complexion along with better weight management and healthy eating habits.
  • It will increase your energy levels and make you more productive.
  • The risk of cardio-vascular diseases and liver related diseases will also greatly decrease.
  • Memory will start improving soon after the detox phase.
  • Lesser anxiety and stress induced by use.

Staying Sober With A Sober Living Companion

Once you have moved on from addiction and the treatment phase staying sober is the main goal. There are high chances of relapse so it is often suggested by professionals that you find a companion. This could be someone who is also on their journey of staying sober, probably in your treatment facility or even your recovery coach but this should be someone who can keep you motivated. Your companion can also be a family member, partner or a close friend who will push you to be better and be there to support you.


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