The Stages of Addiction: A Vicious Cycle

Addiction is a progressive disease that is the result of a series of circumstances that typically transpire over time. When someone finds themself struggling with addiction it is not due to a conscious choice to land in this circumstance. This is similar to any chronic disease like cancer.  No one would ever choose to have cancer, but there are things that can be done to lower the risk of developing it.

The stages of addiction follow a similar pattern and understanding them is critical to intervene before the disease progresses too far. The stages of addiction can occur quickly or take a significant amount of time to develop like months or years. Someone who engaged in casual use for a long time can find themselves dealing with addiction once a particular circumstance occurs to inflate their substance use.

What are the Stages of Addiction?

In general terms, they are thought of as pre-contemplation, contemplation, action, and maintenance. There are a few ways to think of the stages of addiction. Another variation on this model discusses stages of addiction broken down into five steps or stages. It’s important to realize that addiction is a disease, and like any other disease, it follows a certain progression. Just as cancer starts out as a small tumor that can be treated and cured if caught early enough, addiction also starts small. In its earliest stages, addiction is nothing more than the occasional use of a substance. But left untreated, it quickly progresses to abuse and dependence, and finally to addiction.
Stage 1: The First Time Using
The first stage relates to when someone initially uses a substance, they are in the experimentation stage. This is when people are trying something new and aren't necessarily addicted yet. They may not be aware of the potential risks or they may think that they can control their use. For many people this phase is short-lived and they are able to stick to using recreationally or in moderation. However, for some people, this phase leads to regular use.
Stage 2: Substance Abuse
If someone continues to use a substance after the first time, they move into the regular use stage. This is when people start to develop a pattern of using and may start to feel like they need the substance to function. People in this stage will often not see a problem with the way they are using substances. This is usually because they haven't actually encountered any issues or bad consequences from engaging in the behavior. Typically they view this behavior as "relaxing" or "enjoyable."
Stage 3: Building a Substance Tolerance
If someone continues using a substance, they will start to develop tolerance. This means that they need to use more of the substance to get the same effect. They may start using it more often and in larger amounts. During this stage, they will also start to notice that they are thinking about substance abuse much more often than they were previously. Substance abuse may even start disrupting the person's life.
Stage 4: Substance Dependence
Substance dependence is when someone is physically and mentally addicted to a substance. They may feel like they can't function without it and have withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop. This is when the substance use disorder is present. Having a physical dependence on drugs or alcohol makes it much harder to quit chronic substance use. This is often when significant changes are seen in a person's overall behavior as they struggle to regain control.
Stage 5: Chronic Addiction
The fifth stage is the most severe stage of addiction. People at this stage are completely obsessed with their substance use and will do anything to get it. Due to drug and alcohol addiction, they may neglect their responsibilities and relationships and put themselves in dangerous situations. Once someone is suffering from full-blown addiction they will see many aspects of their lives decline. Not only will they struggle with maintaining basic relationships and keeping a job, but can also deal with physical and mental health, and legal issues. At this point, the person is no longer able to control their ability to think clearly about anything other than substance abuse.
Addiction and Relapse
This is commonly referred to as "stage six" or final stage as people who suffer from addiction commonly relapse as a symptom of this chronic disease. Relapse does not mean that treatment has failed, but rather that it needs to be continued or adjusted. It is important for people who have relapsed to get back on track as soon as possible and to continue with their sobriety goals. People suffering from addiction often feel like they are stuck in a never-ending cycle of addiction and relapse. This is because addiction is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment. However, with the right addiction treatment, people can recover from addiction and lead happy healthy lives.

How to Stop the Cycle of Addiction

The Stages of Addiction: A Vicious Cycle

Stopping substance use disorder is difficult as it often requires friends or family members to intervene and insist the person seek to end drug or alcohol addiction. Medical professionals are often included in this discussion and are often necessary to explain how the addictive behavior is putting the individual in serious danger.

If the individual has a family history of drug addiction it may be even harder to quit. Having a strong support system in place when you’re trying to end drug dependence is paramount to success and lifelong recovery. If the closest people around you are also struggling with drug use you’re at a higher risk of relapsing.

There are many treatment options available that can remove a person from an unhealthy environment and provide professional medical advice to help them succeed. Support groups are also available to help people struggling with substance use disorder.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there is help available. Detoxification and treatment can provide the tools needed to break the cycle of addiction and build a foundation for long-term sobriety.

Medical Detox

Detoxification or “detox” is the first step in treating addiction. This process involves removing all traces of the addictive substance from the body. detox can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it is an essential step in recovery. Treatment programs can offer medical support during detox to help make the process as safe and comfortable as possible.

Addiction Treatment

After detox, treatment programs can help people suffering from addiction learn how to live sober lives. Treatment typically includes counseling, group therapy, and other evidence-based therapies.

Treatment facilities can help people identify the underlying causes of their addiction and learn coping skills to deal with triggers and cravings. Treatment can also help people develop a support system of friends and family who can offer encouragement and accountability. They can also help individuals struggling with mental health disorders discover these underlying issues that may ultimately lead to their substance use disorder.

There are many different treatment programs that can help people overcome alcohol and drug addiction. There are inpatient programs that allow people to live at the facility and receive 24/7 care. If someone can’t attend an inpatient program they can also find a customized outpatient program that fits their specific needs.

Aftercare Support

Many treatment centers also provide sober living or aftercare programs to help former patients stick with their recovery programs.  Sober living programs provide a safe and supportive environment for people who are transitioning back to life outside of treatment.

Aftercare programs may include weekly check-ins, group therapy, and individual counseling. These programs can help people stay on track with their recovery goals and avoid relapse.

Substance use disorders can be difficult to overcome, but treatment can help people get their lives back on track. With the right support, people in recovery can learn to live happy and healthy lives without drugs or alcohol.

Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process. There are many different paths to recovery, and what works for one person may not work for another. It is important to find an approach that feels right for you and stick with it. Recovery requires hard work, but it is possible. With commitment and perseverance, you can overcome addiction and build a healthy, happy life.

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The Stages of Addiction: A Vicious Cycle

If you or a loved one are caught in the cycle of addiction, it can feel impossible to break free. But at Intrepid Detox, we understand the stages of addiction and how difficult it can be to overcome them. That’s why we offer comprehensive medical detox and addiction treatment programs that are designed to help you break free from the vicious cycle of addiction and start fresh.

Our team of experienced professionals will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that meets your unique needs and helps you reach your goals. We offer a variety of services, including medical detox, individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and more. We also offer aftercare support to help you stay on track after you leave our facility.