Addiction is not an instant disease that suddenly strikes out of nowhere. Instead, addiction can be described as a progression of steps that begin with the first choice to drink or use. If the progression continues, it can lead to the loss of choice and an inability to stop using. Understanding the progression of addiction can help you know if you or someone you love is on the path to a serious disease that requires professional treatment to overcome.
Phase 1: Denial
The first phase begins with the choice to use, which is usually seeded in denial. The assumption that “one try won’t hurt,” or “addiction won’t happen to me,” is the first dangerous step on the road to substance abuse.
Phase 2: Experiencing Positive Results
Once the drug is used, a positive mood swing is experienced. The feelings of extreme relaxation or euphoria make you think using “can’t be all bad.” Experimenting with the amount of substance used can also impact the type of positive results experienced, giving you a false sense of control over your substance use.
Phase 3: Seeking Positive Results
One day, you move from enjoying the positive results to actually seeking them out. This could happen after just one use or after repeated uses bring the same results. Despite the desire to use, you can still justify your choices by saying you only use on weekends, or you won’t use until the end of the work day. Many are still considered social or recreational users at this phase.
Phase 4: Tolerance/Dependency
Tolerance means needing more of the substance to achieve the same “high” you got at the beginning of your substance use. Dependency is a dangerous phase in which you will no longer be able to control the amount of the substance used or the specific time when you use. Your life starts to revolve around your ability to use, rather than fitting your drinking or use into your schedule. The self-imposed guidelines from Phase 3 are no longer enforced and you may begin to feel shame or guilt about your substance use.
Phase 5: The Need for Normal
At this final stage of addiction, you move beyond the feelings of euphoria you got from using the drug or alcohol to using simply to feel normal. You may experience more blackouts and if you stop using, the physical withdrawal symptoms may seem nearly unbearable. At this stage, you likely need professional detoxification services and a carefully structured treatment plan to help you understand and overcome your disease.
Addiction is not something that happens overnight, it is a progressive disease that will continue to advance until you are unable to overcome it on your own. At West Coast Recovery Centers, our staff is ready to help you address your addiction at any phase of the process to help you rediscover a healthy, sober way of life. To get help today, contact West Coast Recovery Centers at 442-333-6199.