drinking with friends

Addiction is not something that happens overnight. It’s a cycle that happens over time. Some people are under the impression that addiction either exists in a person’s character or not, but this isn’t exactly the case. Instead, it’s usually several circumstances that lead a person to addiction. 

There are five stages to addiction, and they can occur over several months or years. Let’s look closer at the stages of addiction so that you can better understand how one forms. Be aware that you can access treatment at any stage – you do not need to wait until you hit rock bottom to seek outpatient or inpatient rehab. 

Breaking Down the Stages of Addiction 

While each person is unique, the vast majority of individuals with addiction problems go through these five stages. 

Stage 1: Initial Use 

The first stage is the initial use of drugs or alcohol. People use substances for all types of reasons, such as peer pressure, experimentation or self-medication. Some people are at a higher risk for developing an addiction than others, but the disease can affect anyone. 

The main risk factors for drug or alcohol use are: 

  • Mental illness like depression or anxiety
  • Social issues or loneliness
  • Family history of substance use 
  • Abuse or neglect 
  • Unresolved trauma
  • Chaotic living environment 

Stage 2: Abuse 

Just because a person experiments with drugs or alcohol does not mean they will continue. But if they do, this can quickly turn into abuse.

Drug or alcohol abuse happens when a person uses the substances on a regular, improper basis. This could mean taking a prescription opioid to relax or drinking alcohol to loosen up around others. Any time a person uses drugs to self-treat mental or physical issues, it’s considered abuse. 

Stage 3: Tolerance 

When a person starts abusing substances, tolerance can develop. Tolerance happens when the original dosage or use of the substance no longer produces the same effects.  This causes the person to increase their dosage or frequency. 

The increased dosage could work for a while, but over time, the same pattern happens and the person needs more again. Slowly, the brain adjusts and then leads to the next cycle: dependence. 

Stage 4: Dependence 

Eventually, the brain becomes dependent on substances to function properly. For example, someone who regularly uses cocaine will find it impossible to experience pleasure without the drug. Once the brain and body are dependent on drugs or alcohol to function, it’s difficult to cut back or stop. 

Stage 5: Addiction 

The final stage is addiction, a chronic mental health condition characterized by a persistent and intense urge to engage in drug or alcohol use. Even though harm and negative consequences happen, the person still can’t stop. 

There are different severities of addiction. Some people might only have a mild addiction and can get the support they need through an outpatient program. Those with a serious addiction will likely need an inpatient drug rehab and extended care. 

Where to Find a Rehab Near Me 

As you start your search for ‘drug detox near me,’ you’ll likely find a variety of options in your area. Options are good, as they allow you to find the perfect fit for your needs and goals.

Wolf Creek Recovery in Prescott AZ offers intensive outpatient treatment, an extended care program and drug detox referral services. We work with clients from all over the country, including right here in Arizona! 

To learn more about our evidence-based and alternative therapies for mental health, substance use and even gambling addictions, contact our admissions team today.