Four Stages of Addiction

Stages of Addiction A: Quick Overview


risk factors addiction

Addiction forms gradually and usually starts with misuse, moving toward abuse and leading to addiction.


To minimize emotional or physical pain; someone might experiment with drugs or alcohol. One may use drugs or alcohol to be comfortable in a social setting, and choose to try the substance another time simply to have a good time. Relieved of feelings of discomfort, the individual will continue to use drugs or alcohol again, and again.


Before long the individual increases use to maintain the yearned for effects of euphoria and escape from reality. The problems of origin are left unresolved and/or unattended. If the individual did not have issues at the onset of usage, issues will soon be developed because of the use. Constant attempts to satisfy the body’s cravings for drugs or alcohol become the person’s all new reality.


Tremendous time and effort is wasted acquiring the alcohol or drugs. After the addict or alcoholic is completely entrenched in the cycle of addiction, the health, economic, emotional, and social penalties show up. The addict may just feel that they have been unlucky, or blame the consequences on others instead of their addiction.

Of course, individual physiology and psychological makeup have much to do with how quickly addiction can take hold and with the quantity of drugs ingested prior to crossing the unseen line from freedom to slavery.

While each and every instance of abuse may be different in time frame and ferocity of dependence, a few patterns are common within the total pool of substance abusers. From the testimonies of addicted people and those who treat them, clinicians are able to identify benchmarks for the phases of drug addiction.

harm from drugs
Source ISCD 2010 study

Stages of Addiction: A Deeper Look

Experimenting With Drugs

Exploring the effects of drugs can certainly have many different motivations. For youths, peer pressure is a primary factor in taking their first puff, drink, or snort. Addiction does not have to begin in youth. A middle-aged or older individual may try prescription painkillers to remedy chronic pains and aches. Even seniors may use alcohol or drugs to soothe loneliness. These actions correspond to critical moments in a person’s life when a drug is taken to force a bodily, social, or emotional malady to be a little more bearable. Disconnected instances of substance use might or might not be continued using greater quantities and higher frequency. With no realistic self-assessment providing a truthful appraisal of the warning indicators of substance addiction, a person might cross, unknowingly, into the more savage stages of drug dependence and addiction.

Consistent Use

Using a drug or other substance regularly may not automatically lead a person into addiction. Some people can take a drug regularly for a time span and afterwards terminate its consumption with negligible discomfort. The probability of addiction is based upon the duration of the consumption and the strength of the dosages. Should the time period continue indefinitely, and/or the potency of dosage increase, proper use could develop into prescription dependence. One cautionary indicator is rather particular changes in behavior. If speech and behaviors transform dramatically, especially with a heightened propensity toward aggressiveness and unsafe behavior, it is necessary to stop using the drug.

Dangerous Usage

As the stages of  addiction are passed through, the person’s choices and behavior become progressively hazardous, to both themselves and others. Good friends and loved ones are ideally suited to determine whether usual patterns are changing for the worse.

Hallmarks of increasingly risky acts include:

  • A declining concern for appearance
  • Defensive during conversation
  • Driving a vehicle while under the influence of a psychoactive substance
  • Spending cash recklessly to acquire the drug
  • Secretiveness
  • Poor personal hygiene

Loss or increase, especially loss, of appetite, inability to recall the past, and degrading coordination are also indicators of drug abuse. The line of demarcation between unsafe use and dependence is thin and difficult to identify. Getting help for oneself, or another person you love, should not be postponed at this phase.


Of all the stages of addiction, dependence and use are the hardest to distinguish. The disastrous consequences of drug abuse are not so obvious and apparent in dependence. For instance, the dependent individual is repeatedly absent from work thanks to continual consumption of the enslaving drug. Over and above the employer, the substance abuser will occasionally allow commitments to family members, friends, neighbors, and society go by the wayside. The hazardous conduct noted above becomes much more habitual as well.

Through it all, the “dependent only” stands apart from the “addict” by meeting sufficient obligations to maintain the basic framework of their life. The trajectory of drug abuse predicts catastrophe but the semblance of normalcy remains.


 If changes are not made, and assistance is not found, the stage of drug dependence leads to the more serious stage of addiction. Now the person is both mentally and physically bound to continued use of the drug or alcohol. Brain disorders develop and the patient is prone to several destructive effects of long-term substance abuse.

At this intensity, the individual desiring freedom from addiction must endure alcohol withdrawal while detoxing. Since the addiction is of both body and mind, withdrawal manifestations are best supervised and treated by experienced medical professionals. As soon as the enslaving substance has left the physical body, the drug abuser should work with mental health professionals to determine the causes and character of the addiction. Systematic and honest treatment options with mental health professionals; merged with consistent attendance in a self-help group has helped many seemingly hopeless addicts to live life free from drug abuse.

Without a sober self-assessment and a candid evaluation of the signs of drug addiction, a person could pass unknowingly, and forever, into the most distressing stage of drug addiction.

Using a drug or other substance on a regular basis does not automatically lead someone into addiction. Of all the stages of drug addiction, use and dependence are the most difficult to separate. If adjustments are not initiated, if assistance is not looked for, the process of drug addiction will draw a person to the most grievous stage of addiction.

Structure and Statistics from:

Remember the first two stages of addiction include things like having fun and getting a pain killer from your doctor. Bayer used to advertise its Heroin as a cure for Morphine addiction.  It is the first stages of addiction that grab and hold people. It is the last two that damage and finally annihilate a person.

Bible verses on addiction
Hangover cure, not really