experimenting with drugs and alcohol

Understanding the Stages of Addiction

Addiction is one of the greatest public health concerns facing our country today. There are approximately 21 million Americans who struggle with substance use, yet only 10 percent receive the help they need. And even more unfortunate is that 100+ people die every day from opioid-related drug overdoses

Like most diseases, it takes time for an addiction to develop. Most people start off using drugs because they’re curious or feel pressure from their friends. It’s not until they begin taking drugs more regularly and building a tolerance that an addiction begins to form. By this time, a person may feel that they “need” drugs to get through their day. 

By understanding the stages of addiction, you can be aware of where you or a loved one is in the progression and what could come next. Please know that you do not have to wait until you hit rock bottom to get help. You can access addiction treatment in Agoura at any time, as there are various levels of care. 

Stage 1: Initiation 

Most children and adolescents are exposed to drugs at an early age, especially if there is drug use in the home. While some experimentation can be considered normal, it’s important to know that the earlier the initiation, the more likely the child or teen is to develop an addiction. This is why it’s ideal to keep kids and teens away from these substances, as the longer they wait to experiment, the less likely they are to become addicted. 

Stage 2: Experimentation 

Experimentation can happen in childhood, adolescence or adulthood. Regardless of age, experimentation usually starts from peer pressure, the desire to numb one’s feelings or the need to achieve a goal, such as staying up late to write a paper. Most people who experiment with drugs or alcohol do not think it’s going to lead to anything. They believe they are in control, and always will be. 

Stage 3: Regular Use 

When drugs make a person feel good, they’re more likely to continue their use, which eventually leads to regular use. When a person starts using drugs regularly, other areas of their life suffer, such as school, work or relationships. Minimal consequences occur, but as the drug use continues, more serious consequences can happen. Unfortunately, people in this stage are often in denial and believe they can stop using at any time. 

Step 4: Risky Substance Use

Once drug use becomes a daily, regular occurrence, it becomes risky and problematic. People in this phase of addiction may be willing to do dangerous things, such as drive under the influence or have unprotected sex. Not only do they risk their safety and well-being, but also the safety and well-being of others. Again, it’s common for drug users to be in a state of denial, believing they have control over their life. 

Step 5: Dependence 

Dependence refers to being physically unable to stop using drugs or alcohol without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. It does take time for this to happen – dependence does not occur overnight. However, it doesn’t take long for an addiction to develop. Some people get addicted very quickly, especially if they’re using certain substances like cocaine or prescription drugs. 

Addiction is a serious, progressive disease that requires drug rehab in Agoura Hills. You will not get better on your own. Awakenings Treatment Center provides intensive outpatient and outpatient treatment. The benefit to our program is that it’s flexible and personalized to your needs. In fact, many of our clients are able to transition back to work during our program. Contact our admissions department to learn more.