The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as “a chronic, recurrent brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite the harmful consequences. Addiction includes dependence on alcohol, opioids and nicotine, among many other substances. As addiction takes hold, people exhibit certain behaviors, says National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. As people become regular users, they begin to show a pattern.
Sometimes they may consume only on weekends or only at night while spending time with friends, but often these people begin to show signs of addiction as the substance becomes more important in their lives. Sometimes there is a perception that addiction is something that exists in a person's character or it doesn't exist. This idea may lead to the belief that a person who is struggling with addiction to a substance may have had a drink or tried an illicit drug once and immediately became addicted. However, the reality is a little more complex than that.
As defined by the American Society for Addiction Medicine, addiction is a chronic brain disease that affects reward, pleasure, memory and motivation of the brain. Like many chronic diseases, it doesn't just arise one day. Often, several circumstances align that, over time, cause a person who would otherwise enjoy the occasional drink or avoid substance abuse to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. The process of developing addiction in this case tends to occur in a series of stages and, like other chronic diseases, often turns into a cycle of addiction, treatment, or withdrawal and relapse.
Multiple stages of addiction can occur in a short period of time, or they can take months or even years to develop. A person who has only had an occasional drink may, over the years, develop a habit that can develop into alcoholism. If you think you or a loved one may be struggling with addiction, let us hear your story and help you determine the path to treatment. Sometimes, these stages can occur simultaneously.
For example, for illicit substances used to feel “high”, even one use is considered abuse. Some of these illicit substances can also result in tolerance within one or two uses. However, in most cases, all of these steps are part of the chronic cycle of addiction. There are many reasons why the person who ends up struggling with an addiction might try the substance to begin with.
It can be as seemingly benign as getting a prescription for pain management or a mental health problem, as culturally typical as trying a first drink at age 21, or as insidious as being pressured by friends or family to try illicit drugs. Regardless of how the initial use occurs, it is the first step towards addiction. However, even these risk factors won't necessarily lead to the high-risk person developing a substance use disorder, such as addiction. Other contributing factors often take into account, including later stages of addiction.
When a person has been taking a prescription medication or abusing other substances for an extended period of time, the substance can cause changes in the brain that result in tolerance, a condition described by the Merck Manuals as one in which the original dose or use of the substance no longer produces the same. physical or mental effect. As a result, the person using the substance may increase the dosage or frequency of use to try to recover the original result. For a while, this could work.
Then, over time, tolerance to this new dose occurs, and the person increases again, creating a progression to intense substance abuse. However, if the person has been using a medication to treat another condition and becomes dependent on that drug to feel good regardless of the condition being treated, it may be a type of dependence that leads to addiction. In general, experiencing 2-3 of these symptoms is considered a mild substance use disorder. Reporting 4 to 5 of them leads to a diagnosis of a moderate disorder.
If the person experiences 6 or more of the symptoms, it is considered to indicate a serious substance use disorder or addiction. A person may make several attempts to stop using a substance before realizing that addiction is a factor. However, when addiction is diagnosed, it is possible to interrupt this cycle of addiction, withdrawal and relapse by receiving professional treatment supported by research that demonstrates your ability to help. Multiple methods, including cognitive and behavioral therapies, group peer support, and other physical and mental health treatments, can encourage the person to develop tools to manage this chronic and recurrent condition.
As with medications and therapies used to treat asthma and diabetes, addiction rehabilitation treatments are designed to help a person learn to manage a chronic substance use disorder and reduce the likelihood of relapse in drug use. With certified and experienced motivation and help, these individuals can learn to interrupt the cycle of addiction and move toward sustained abstinence that heralds recovery and results in a more positive future. Prochaska, DiClemente and Norcross created the stages of change or transtheoretical model in 1983 to help people quit smoking. It was then updated in 1992, when it began to be used in clinical settings for a variety of behaviors.
When studying various treatment plans for mental health disorders and substance abuse, Prochaska, DiClemente and Norcross noticed patterns that occur as people progress through major behavior change. Someone may remain at this stage due to lack of information about addictive behaviors. Another reason we see people getting stuck in the pre-contemplation stage is disappointment with multiple failed recovery attempts and treatment options. Most people in precontemplation feel that recovery is simply not possible for them.
The truth is that anyone can recover from any stage. Aftercare helps you stay on track and continue to practice what you learned during rehabilitation. Whether it's individual therapy, support groups, 12-step meetings, or an outpatient treatment program, we recommend staying in some type of aftercare for at least one to two years after completing a rehabilitation program. The experimentation stage begins when you start using drugs or alcohol in specific situations, such as teenagers in party environments or adults during times of particular stress.
Even if a lot is consumed in a particular case, the decision to use is made in the rational brain (i.e. You choose to use drugs or alcohol instead of being ruled unconsciously by an automatic response). You could even binge (that is,. A man who drinks five or more drinks (or a woman who has four or more drinks in two hours) without leaving the experimentation stage.
Understanding the stages of addiction is important to help you understand how substance use can turn into something that harms your relationships, your sense of self, and your overall health. If you or a loved one is on the path of addiction, The Recovery Village can help. Our compassionate intake coordinators can answer your questions and help you understand treatment options that may work well in your specific situation. .