Identifying the 5 stages of addiction

Addiction is now one of the most experienced and life-changing mental health issues, on a global scale, even if it’s still an unfortunate taboo subject. Down to the stigma attached to addiction and the idea of sourcing support, sadly, many individuals fail to spot the signs of addiction, along with the severity of their addictive behaviours.

Through this, denial can materialise, stronger addictions can develop, physical and psychological health problems can heighten, and the ability to withdraw from the likes of drugs and alcohol will reduce; all linked to an addiction diagnosis.

Down to these risks, it is recommended that the signs of addiction are known, by all parties, whether that’s a loved one, or someone misusing addictive substances. Identifying the 5 stages of addiction is also recommended to understand the severity of addictive behaviours, of connections, of reliances.

By doing so, knowing when to say enough is enough, will be likely, knowing when to step in and promote a family referral is likely, knowing that addiction recovery is necessary is likely.

Here are the ins and outs of spotting an addiction, of identifying the 5 stages of addiction, and of how to break the cycle with our support at Step One Recovery. Reach out no matter which stage you may be experiencing, with the aim to take control, before a long-term, life-limiting addiction materialises.


Signs of addiction

Addiction will impact all individuals differently. Causations, side effects, withdrawal symptoms and experiences with the likes of drugs and alcohol will vary. Yet, there are common signs of addiction, common signs which indicate that physical and psychological changes are occurring, negatively associated with addiction.

Common signs of addiction include:
– The inability to stop associations linked to addictive stimuli
– Disinterest in life outside of those addictive stimuli
– Changes to mood, to emotions, to personality, to routine
– A loss of control down to the power of addiction
– Mental health issues, commonly linked to alcoholism and substance abuse
– Breakdown in personal and professional relationships
– Intentional behaviour to isolate or remain alone

While the above signs can direct further issues beyond addiction, significant changes completed with a quick turnaround can indicate an addiction diagnosis. This is why it is important to understand the 5 stages of addiction to see how likely or severe an addiction can be.

If you’re personally experiencing negativity linked to the likes of drug or alcohol abuse/addiction, sourcing professional support will be recommended. If you believe that a loved one is suffering from addiction, looking to hold an intervention and approaching the issue with compassion is encouraged.


Identifying the 5 stages of addiction, from fruition to long-term effects

Below are the common 5 stages of addiction, experienced by the average person over the development of an addiction diagnosis. It is however important to remember that each step can influence different behaviours, levels of severity and impacts, starting from fruition to long-term effects.

First use
The first use is where the first exposure of addictive stimuli is experienced. This can be classed as initial consumption of drugs and alcohol, the initial experience of the likes of gambling, or initial exposure to the positives of those addictive stimuli.

The majority of first use stages will see addictive stimuli used as an instant self-help strategy, as a way to relax, as a way to try new experiences, with no intention of developing an addiction. It is important to note that addictions are uncontrolled and unintentional. Addiction isn’t a choice, even while first use is.

Regular use
After encountering a substance or experience through first use, if an encounter was believed to be positive/motivating/required, this is where regular use can emerge. This is where a habit will usually develop, where the likes of alcohol may be consumed on a regular basis with certain people, within certain environments, or within certain days/times.

Risky use
Risky use is where regular use begins to develop, carrying many dangers. This is commonly the first sign of negativity, whether that’s illegal behaviour, irrational decisions, breakdown in relationships, or negative consequences linked to a reduction in responsibilities.

If consumption or experience continue, while those consequences are known, here is where the true signs of addiction begin to present themselves.

The dependence stage is where a physical association will be present. Here’s where withdrawal symptoms will likely show themselves if consumption is avoided. Dependence can be very difficult to live with, where catering to cravings or tolerance is required to avoid those withdrawal symptoms.

At this point, psychological associations can form, where substance abuse will be used as a coping strategy or an escape.

Substance use disorder/addiction
By reaching this point, an addiction, also known as substance use disorder, will be present. Physical and psychological cravings and associations will drive ongoing consumption. Without professional intervention, the continuity of addiction is likely.

This is the most damaging stage, which carries significant risks to physical and mental health, quality of life and overall wellbeing. Those addictive stimuli will take priority, no matter what it takes.

If you’re at this stage of addiction, reaching out for professional support is recommended, helping to break the cycle of addiction. Please also be aware that support can also be available through the initial stages of addiction, helping to reduce its impacts.


Break the cycle of addiction with Step One Recovery

Whether your addiction is developing, or you’ve progressed through the 5 stages of addiction a while ago, it’s time to break the cycle. Through our range of rehabilitation clinics and programmes, at Step One Recovery, we can help you take a safe and sustainable step to overcome addiction.

This will be possible by completing a range of addiction treatment and therapeutic methods, promoting physical and psychological recovery. Emotional guidance and support to rebuild your quality of life will also be accessible.

Identifying the 5 stages of addiction is very important, ultimately helping users to take control before an addiction materialises. If you’ve unfortunately lived through denial, lacked control, or you’ve experienced a quick developing addiction, acting on urgency will be encouraged.

Addiction is treatable. Overcome its damages by reaching out today.