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Addiction to drugs or alcohol occurs for many reasons, but regardless of the motivation behind substance use disorders, chemical dependencies unfold in various ways depending on the substance abused and how each person reacts to the chemical. A point worth noting is each drug or alcohol would have a physical, emotional and physical effect on the body. Typically, when each individual uses a substance, they may not become dependent right away. Although every person and every case is different, most who suffer from substance use disorders go through some form of 5 stages of addiction.
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One of the first signs of an emerging dependence to a drug is the patterns one begins to display. First-time use of an addictive substance like heroin can encourage one to start a pattern of use. A patient prescribed a legal drug may up their dosage due to the powerful feelings of euphoria they feel. Soon, one displays patterns of regular use of a substance. With a chemical like oxycodone, an individual may have track marks in their arm; have bloodshot eyes; suffered extreme weight loss, and definitely started to abuse more amounts of the drug.
In some cases, people battling substance use disorders may combine multiple drugs together like cocaine or meth for a more powerful experience. This leads to the second sign of addiction—risky use. When someone uses more than 1 drug—called poly drug use—they are greatly increasing their risk of a fatal overdose. The body is not meant to handle the harm of one dangerous chemical, let alone several dangerous chemicals at once. Risky drug use does not only involve poly drug use, however. It can involve reckless behavior combined with frequent substance use. People drinking and driving are examples of the effects of a pattern of substance abuse with an action that impacts others.
Because of frequent use, individuals abusing harmful chemicals may realize their tolerance levels have increased. Individuals may find themselves seeking higher amounts of the substance, or experiment with other chemicals that provide similar effects. One’s tolerance level can create major emotional and physical effects, as their brains have become altered by the abused substance. At this point, he or she may not be able to go a day without the substance, slowly increasing their desire to use.
The fourth stage of addiction is dependence. At this stage, individuals now have a substance use disorder. They take the substance frequently and increase their amount to maintain it. Additionally, people with a dependence endure painful withdrawal symptoms if they try to taper use. For a substance like cocaine that produces anxiety and depression, along with weight loss and insomnia when us is discontinued, many continue to abuse a chemical to avoid these symptoms.
The final and most detrimental stage is a full-blown substance use disorder. This is the stage where one’s life and family have been the most impacted. The individual with the substance use disorder may have behavioral problems caused by or related to their addition.
Children with substance use disorders may drop out of school, lie, steal, or risk their safety in their pursuit of getting drugs. Others become homeless, as they are unable to maintain jobs or go to school. In extreme situations, women may resort to unhealthy relationships. Some may resort to prostitution or selling drugs to others to fuel their disorder.
This is the most damaging phase, as the body and mind are ravaged by alcohol, heroin, methamphetamines, or opioids. There is a loss of control and an inability to function in healthy ways. Feelings of helplessness and isolation increase, and one can feel desperate.
Despite substance abuse disorders creating damage to the mind and body and creating challenging relationships, recovery is possible. This can be done with rehab and cutting-edge therapies. To find out more about how to escape the 5 stages of addiction, no matter which one you’re in, contact a treatment provider today.
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