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Stages of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease, with the stages of addiction occurring as soon as within weeks of your first use. Because addiction is a progressive disease, your symptoms will continue to worsen until you get help. Since abusing drugs and alcohol puts you at such a high risk of dying from an overdose, your next use could be your last. Addiction is a deadly disease that doesn’t discriminate. Substance abuse disorders have no known cause, meaning that anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender, can develop an addiction. Drug overdoses are also the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50, making addiction deadlier than ever.

What are the Stages of Addiction?

The stages of addiction start with your first use and end with physical and psychological dependency. Although most people who use drugs or alcohol don’t develop a dependency, addiction impacts nearly 20 million Americans annually. The stages of addiction can also progress rapidly. It can take anywhere from weeks, months to years to develop a dependency. After your first use, the stages of addiction consist of regular use, abuse, and dependency. Since drugs and alcohol are neurotransmitter inhibitors, whenever you use a psychoactive substance, your brain releases a pleasurable rush of neurotransmitters. This rush is responsible for the positive effects you experience during intoxication and causes your brain to associate your substance of choice with pleasure. Once your brain associates your substance of abuse with pleasure, your substance use is positively reinforced. Your brain releases neurotransmitters whenever you use it but restricts the release when you don’t use it. As you progress through the stages of addiction, your brain can become incapable of releasing neurotransmitters. Additionally, many substances can cause physical dependency. When you develop a physical dependency, you can deal with painful and serious withdrawal symptoms if you immediately stop using it.

How Is Addiction Treated?

Because of the significant alterations addiction causes to your brain chemistry, recovering from a substance abuse disorder takes time. Your brain has to re-learn how to release the proper amount of neurotransmitters, which can cause you to deal with depression and anxiety during withdrawal. If you have an underlying mental health disorder, detox can also cause your mental health symptoms to worsen. Substance abuse treatment can include both inpatient and outpatient programs and can offer:

  • Relapse prevention education and planning
  • After-care planning
  • Short-term and long-term programs
  • Evidence-based treatments, like cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Holistic therapies, including mindfulness exercises

During treatment, you will learn how to identify and cope with things like triggers and cravings. You will also learn how to identify and change negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Treatment programs can also offer you the ability to include family members and loved ones in your recovery.

Finding Treatment Today

When you are struggling with addiction, you can feel hopeless, alone, and overwhelmed. Regardless of what stages of addiction you are in, treatment provides you with the support, guidance, and compassion necessary to recover. Call us today at 844.875.5609 to learn more about your treatment options.