Stages of drug addiction

Sanca Central: Stages of drug addiction

It takes time for an addiction to develop. As a consequence of long-term substance usage, an individual’s perception of a drug and their body’s response to it are altered. Although each phase in the development might vary widely depending on individual, dose, and kind of drug misuse, this process is linear.

A person’s initial usage may be broken down into the many phases of addiction, which can be traced back to the beginning of the process. There are six stages of addiction, which we will be discussing here. If you want to learn more about this, scroll through our page and articles right here in Sanca Central. 

First stage: Initiation

Initiation is the first stage of addiction when a person first feels the effects of a substance. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that most addicts start using drugs by the age of 18.

Curiosity and peer pressure are two of the most common causes of drug use. The second choice is picked to better fit in with the group. Teenagers are more prone to attempting new substances due to their immature prefrontal brain. These influences impact their decisions, and many youths make decisions without fully comprehending the long-term consequences.

Second stage: Experimentation

In experimentation, the user has now tried the substance in numerous situations to observe how it changes their life. At this stage, the drug is mainly utilised for pleasure or relaxation. Adults use it to enhance party ambience or relieve school-related stress. Adults are more inclined to explore for fun or to cope with emotional discomfort.

This second stage involves a deliberate choice to use or not take the drug. The frequency of each decision depends on the person’s disposition and incentive for using the drug. People may stop taking the prescription if they want to, and there is no danger of addiction.

Third stage: Regular Use

If someone continues to experiment with a substance, their consumption becomes more regular. Their consumption of this item follows a pattern, but it does not necessarily mean they use it daily. Depending on the person, they may take it every weekend or whenever they feel bored or worried.

At this point, the person’s drug use may become problematic and negatively impact their life. It is also possible that someone who isn’t physically addicted develops a mental reliance on their substance of choice. As a consequence, quitting becomes more complex. 

Fourth stage: Risky Use

In Stage 4, the person’s habitual consumption has grown to the point where it negatively impacts their daily activities. A DUI arrest at this time is very rare, and the person’s employment or school performance will suffer severely. Excessive consumption might cause financial issues as well.

Others will likely notice a shift in the user’s behaviour at this stage, even if the user is unaware of it. Typical changes in a drug abuser include:

  • Stealing money
  • Lying
  • Hiding drugs
  • Changing groups and environment
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, friends, food and more

Fifth stage: Dependence

Stage 5 drug use is defined as drug use that is no longer for recreational or medical motives but rather for physical dependence. At this time in the development of tolerance and dependence, individuals should have formed a tolerance. They are preventing misunderstanding by limiting this stage to bodily or psychological support.

To become physically addicted to a substance, one must abuse it for a long time. Keep in mind that withdrawal is the body’s natural reaction to abrupt discontinuation. This is characterised by a negative rebound accompanied by uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms. Because it is the quickest and easiest way to prevent withdrawal, most individuals choose not to seek therapy.

Stage 6: Addiction

At this point, the user is so dependent on their chosen substance that they no longer control their decisions or behaviours. During Stage 5, the user’s conduct will have progressed to the point where they have given up their last activities and intentionally avoided family and friends. When confronted with questions regarding their drug usage, they may be compelled to deny it or get upset. At this stage, users may be so disconnected from the rest of their lives that they cannot see how their actions have impacted their relationships.

Most common addictions

There are different types of addictions of substances people can abuse, and it’s best to know these so that you will be informed and can stay away from these harmful drugs.


Alcoholism is difficult to detect because of social acceptance. Despite its legality, alcohol abuse exposes users to a host of health issues and the risk of addiction. Keep in mind that drunk driving is the most significant cause of unintentional fatality in most countries, followed by liver disease and alcohol overdose.


If you smoke, you may not understand how harmful your habit is. Possibly because cigarettes and other tobacco products are legal and easily obtained, and the detrimental consequences of smoking take time to manifest. Smoking kills more people than any other substance. Despite the health dangers, many individuals are unable to quit.


The legalisation of marijuana has made its use more acceptable in certain regions. This new tendency may distract from marijuana’s addictive characteristics. Marijuana addiction may be rising owing to strength increases over the last decade (more than 60%).


Heroin withdrawal may be excruciating, making it difficult to break an addiction. While treating this substance abuse, withdrawal symptoms and cravings may be addressed with a combination of therapy and medication.


Despite being solely accessible by prescription, painkillers are very addicting. Addicts don’t realise they have a problem until they try to quit taking prescription painkillers. It’s best to keep in mind that painkiller addiction may emerge without a prescription.


More than a million individuals are hooked to try crack cocaine, which is less expensive and more potent than regular cocaine. 


As mood-stabilizing drugs, Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin are often used to treat anxiety and stress. Many people don’t know they’re addicted to these narcotics until they can no longer function without them. Benzodiazepines are especially dangerous because of their toxic impact on brain chemistry. If the patient does not get medical assistance during detoxification, it might be harmful.


Millions of people are prescribed sleeping pills to treat anxiety and insomnia. Each year, tens of thousands of people who use prescription medications become tolerant of these medicines, eventually becoming addicted. 


Addicts to inhalants face a very high risk of death due to the substances’ high flammability and toxicity. Large dosages of these drugs may have life-threatening consequences, including hospitalisation or death. It’s possible that even after quitting inhalants, the body and brain of an inhalant user are still contaminated.

Treatments for addiction

Treatments may be customised to meet your specific needs. The kind of treatment you choose will depend on the type of substance you’re misusing, the level of care you need, your particular mental health needs, or your financial circumstances. It has been shown that some of the most common addiction treatments may aid those who are struggling to overcome their addictions.


Safe detoxification is possible with the assistance of a medical practitioner. It’s a good idea to have this on hand in case you have any unpleasant or even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Treatments that address the underlying behavioural causes of addiction are often utilised in tandem with detox.

12-step facilitation

Treatment for alcoholism and other substance abuse may be facilitated using the 12-step approach, also known as 12-step programs. This kind of therapy includes acknowledging that addiction may harm a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Acceptance, yielding to a higher power, and frequent involvement in group therapy are all part of the process.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be used to treat a wide range of addictions, including but not limited to alcohol, food, and prescription medicine abuse. There are several ways in which Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may help you learn to identify and respond to stressors. 

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Self-defeating thoughts and feelings may be dealt with via REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy). The goal of REBT is to help you see that your capacity for rational thought is innate rather than dependent on external events or pressures.

Contingency management

Standard therapy for addictions is Contingency Management (CM). Treatment with contingency management aims to keep you sober by rewarding you for good behaviour. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this kind of treatment has successfully prevented relapse.

Treatment with medication

Medication and behavioural therapy both have a role to play in the process of recovery. Several medicines may help reduce cravings and improve mood in the treatment of drug addiction. For example, acamprosate has been demonstrated to help individuals cut down on their alcohol use.

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