Learn More About the Stages of Addiction and Get Help Now | Free Clinical Assessments and Quality Treatment

Drug and alcohol addiction are well-known social problems, but many people don’t realize that addiction does not usually take place overnight. Although some substances will lead to an addiction faster than others, addiction typically happens in stages in which the person taking the substance experiences a progression of abuse and consequences. Understanding the stages of drug addiction can help people identify a developing addiction, and identifying the stages of addiction can also aid family and loved ones who are attempting an intervention.

Stage One: The Experimental Use Phase

Most experts recognize four basic stages of addiction. The first stage is called the experimental use phase. During this stage of addiction, the potential addict may be using a drug for the very first time or using it only occasionally. This experimental stage leads to a desire for more of the substance, but an addiction has not yet taken hold.

Stage Two: The Regular Use Phase

The second of the four stages of drug abuse consists of the regular use of the substance. Individuals are taking the drug on a consistent basis, perhaps daily, but it has not yet caused any major changes in their lives. Use of the drug during this stage is moderated, but it is increasing. The addict may start thinking that rehabilitation is necessary but does not pursue that option.

Stage Three: The Risky Use Phase

Risky use defines the third stage of addiction. At this point, the addict has grown so accustomed to the drug that vastly increased amounts must be consumed in order to receive the same high that a smaller dose once provided. Binge consumption is common in stage three of the four stages of substance abuse. The addict may also be taking risks in order to successfully obtain a stash of the substance for consumption. For example, many addicts in stage three start stealing from family and friends in order to fund their habit.

Stage Four: The Chemical Dependency Phase

In the fourth and final of the stages of drug addiction, the addict has developed a chemical dependency on the substance being abused. Changes in the brain and in the body have made the addict dependent on the substance of normal functioning. As a result, recovery for addicts who have reached stage four will require professional and individualized treatment including detoxification, which is one of the first stages of recovery from addiction. Those who reach stage four typically cannot quit cold turkey, and if they try, they may experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

Recovery Help at Every Stage

No matter which of the stages of addiction you or a loved one are experiencing, WhiteSands Treatment Center can help you recover. Our safe and accredited facility is a place where many addicts have found the recovery assistance they need. We provide a full range of medical and counseling treatments, and we can even work with your private insurance to get you affordable care. Call today or fill out the form for more information.