Addiction is not born overnight. Most often, it starts slowly, in a few common stages which together are often called an addiction timeline. Being aware of this timeline can be incredibly important to help people recognize that their behavior is leading them down the path of addiction, and empower them to take action before that happens.
Below, we’ll present the main phases of addiction, and cover how you can recognize each one.
The discovery stage is the very first step that can lead to addiction. This is the moment a person not just starts using the drug, but slowly discovers it and begins to understand what its effects can do to seemingly help.
During this stage, people are not yet addicted to the substance, meaning that should they want to, they can stop. However, they are intrigued by the substance, and what it can do for them:
- Drown the pain
- Keep them alert
- Provide a refuge from their troubles
- Help them integrate better in a group, etc.
Because of these rewards people can be more likely to continue discovering the substance until they are ready to move to the next stage,
- Substance Abuse
By this point, the substance of choice is used recurrently, sometimes in a way that is harmful. For instance, if during the discovery phase a person only takes the drugs with friends, in the substance abuse stage they will start using it even by themselves.
Because now, they begin to crave the effects even outside the initial discovery environment. Over time, people can also use the substance even if doing so negatively impacts them, such as missing work, or finding it difficult to focus.
- Developing a Tolerance
Over time, people often have to increase the dosage to get the same effects they want out of the substance. This happens as the body develops a tolerance to the substance and needs more to get the same experience.
Then, the person can start needing the substance in order to function. It can come to a point where an individual cannot socialize, feel happiness or pleasure, be confident, or positive unless they consume their substance of choice.
The final stage is addiction, which is considered a chronic condition defined by several symptoms:
- Inability to stop using the substance under any circumstance
- Avoiding activities to use the substance, such as work, hobbies, etc.
- Severe cravings
- Going into withdrawal when stopping
- Taking the substance despite negative health effects, etc.
Get the Help You Need
No matter in which stage you may find yourself in, you can always ask for help and reclaim control over your life. Even when fully addictive, the right treatment can help you overcome your addiction and live a happy, fulfilling life sober.
So if you are struggling with substance addiction, seek professional help at rehabilitation centres in pretoria.
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