Stress has somehow become a natural thing we all deal with on a daily basis. Now, whether that’s because of the fast-paced way of life or because things are changing so rapidly in the world and there is no time to adapt, it all depends on the perspective and how you look at things. In general, it’s pretty clear that people are today stressed and overwhelmed by problems more than ever before. Unfortunately, this is just one of the reasons why there is so much talk about substance abuse being on the rise, but that doesn’t mean how it should be overlooked.
Substance abuse is a big problem
Addiction doesn’t form overnight as it grows over months or years of substance abuse, meaning that it is something that grows and can be noticed if there is someone to notice it, of course. Some know how to conceal abuse by having good financial or social standing, but this only delays an inevitable need for treatment in a drug rehab center. It is the only solution that grants results, as coping and dealing with any type of substance abuse is never easy, and it is a complex problem that one can only overcome with time and support. Sites like addictionresource.net can give you more information about this.
Deniying having a problem only leads to more problems
Others openly claim they cannot or don’t want to stop, as it is the only way to deal with certain things, and they look at that substance, regardless of what type it is, as a solution to their problems or something that “numbs the pain.” In these situations, only pressure related to health, money, romantic partners, or trouble with the law may make them realize they may need to deal with a substance use disorder (SUD).
No matter how someone arrives at the point of admittance, they will likely experience each of the four stages of addiction:
- habitual use
- risky use
These stages can manifest differently for different people and can also last much more and less, depending on the person and how big of a will and support they have. That is why we will focus more and explore how each stage usually looks and how long it lasts.
The first stage of any addiction is the first time mind-altering substances are ingested. There is no one answer t the question of why people choose to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Curiosity, boredom, depression, anxiety, or peer pressure are some of the most common contributors. In most cases, someone decides to try drugs or alcohol because their friends are using them, but it is not rare that someone decides to do it on their own too.
In the experimentation stage, alcohol or drug use may have no, or very minimal, serious consequences. Tying a drug or drinking is viewed as something that will only be indulged temporarily, and no one is aware that it can become a serious problem.
Some people will stop after this phase because they find they don’t like the effects or find joy in other things, so the experimental phase remains only experimental. However, for others, oftentimes this phase is when they find pleasure, a sense of identity, and relief from stress through abusing drugs and alcohol. That may lead them to continued use, bringing us to the second stage of addiction.
2. Habitual Use
The second stage of addiction is habitual use, and it happens after the experimental phase if someone continues with the drug and alcohol usage. Once a person realizes what drugs and alcohol can do to their mind and body, they might indulge more frequently because they like these effects in the beginning. That is when the habitual use stage begins. Drinking or using drugs is no longer a sparse act, and it is now done on a daily or weekly basis.
Someone with a substance use disorder (SUD) will use substances more frequently to deal with stress, anxiety, depression, or avoid life in general because of the fake feeling that everything is okay, which these substances can provide. They may not even realize it at first and claim they can stop whenever they want as they have only faced minimal consequences.
Some drink heavily but are able to maintain healthy relationships and occupations and generally do not cause problems in other people’s lives. These are some of the signs of a functioning alcoholic, which is rare but can happen. Even though their drinking seems “normal,” it can easily turn into an addiction, ruin their relationships with other people and make them feel much worse.
3. Risky Use
The third stage of addiction is called risky use. At this stage, a person will find that they want to drink and use it whenever they get the chance, no matter on occasion. They may work their whole lives around their substance abuse habits and only feel relaxed and joyous when they are intoxicated. They have probably started to exhibit warning signs of drug abuse by stage three, and it is impossible they are not noticing them.
Some of these warning signs can include:
- driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- losing items
- violent and overemotional episodes
- harsh withdrawal symptoms
- lying, cheating, and stealing
Problems at work may start to arise, and they may grow more and more distant from the ones who love them as people around them will notice their problems. The person may also justify their actions, act manipulatively, and continue to use and drink despite negative consequences because of the misconception that it is actually good for them and makes them feel better.
The fourth and the most severe stage is addiction. By the fourth stage, physical and emotional dependence on drugs or alcohol has created addiction. That means abuse is now at the point where a person’s body only properly functions when there are drugs or alcohol present in the system. When not intoxicated, their emotional state is unpredictable, and other people find it difficult to have stable relationships with them.
The science of drug use and addiction shows substance abuse damages areas of the brain responsible for decision-making, judgment, and behavior control. That will lead someone in active addiction to use these substances against their own self-will. Even if they want to stop using substances, their bodies now depend on them, and not using them makes them feel bad.
Abuse takes precedence over all basic living and societal functions, and it is impossible not to notice. Jobs, homes, money, relationships, and health may have deteriorated at this point. Loneliness has taken over, and there is no other answer besides using more as it is the only way to feel at least something.
Fortunately, addiction can be treated, and one can get their life back. While the fourth stage of addiction can seem hopeless, the right care and treatment plan can provide a new path to a safe, sober lifestyle.
Treating an Addiction
Whatever stage you or a loved one may be in, there are treatment approaches for drug addiction, and it is important to find the best one. Detox, inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, and 12-step group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous are all available to help jumpstart a sober life after addiction. Support is the most important, and thanks to it, people with addiction can learn how to deal with it and become sober again. No matter how hopeless it might look, there is always a solution for every problem, and giving up is never an option.