Stages of Drug Addiction

There are three primary stages of addiction. The first is the Preoccupation Stage. In this stage the addict is craving the substance and this is one of the first signs that an addiction is being formed. Need for the drug begins to preoccupy the person, and everything else in their life takes a back seat to their substance of choice. They become very irritable and tired, and they have difficulty concentrating.

In the second step of addiction, which is the Intoxication Stage of the addiction, larger amounts of the substance are needed to achieve a "high" and in this phase the attempt to get high can cause the user to take unsafe amounts of the substance, seeking out the same experience that they used to get from using lesser amounts of the same drug. This can cause a user to overdose during this phase of addiction. During this stage it is common to have issues at home and work, missing days and events, and constantly needing money.

Step three, is obviously the worst step of the addiction. This is the point at which the addict goes through Withdrawal and begins to experience the Negative Affects of their using. They suffer tremendously without a substance, not being able to function if they don't have the drug in their system. Some of the symptoms of this phase of addiction are agitation, anxiety, insomnia, depression, paranoia, vomiting, shakes, sweats and seizures. During this stage, the addict's only focus is to manage the painful symptoms of their illness, and pretty much they will do anything during this phase to get the drug including but not limited to sharing of needles, stealing, unsafe sex and other risky behaviors.

It is usually during phase three that an addict will consent to treatment, because they have hit rock bottom and can't imagine things getting any worse. Usually by this point they have alienated everyone in their lives and can see that they need help. Although, this is true of many addicts, not all addicts can see this and sometimes it takes court mandated rehab or intervention to get the addict moving in the right direction.

Steps of Rehabilitation

The first step of rehabilitation is the detoxification process. This is usually done in a hospital and must always be done under the care of a trained medical staff, with a primary doctor monitoring the patient's progress. This process usually lasts for about two weeks, and is the process by which the drugs are eliminated from the body. During this process, symptoms are much the equivalent of the symptoms in phase three of the addiction. Symptoms like vomiting, shakes, tremors, extreme mood swings and even seizures can occur as the body comes out of its drug induced state.

Immediately following the detox process, it is recommended that the patient go to an inpatient drug rehabilitation facility for continued treatment. During this phase there is a lot of deprogramming and reprogramming, with a strong focus on consequences, responsibility and counseling. Looking not only at what changes they need to make in their lives, but also looking at how they came to this place to begin with, hoping that discovering the causes will help avoid relapse.

After the inpatient treatment, you are given a support person, and it is recommended that you attend support meetings, and continue on with individual counseling for the best chance of success and recovery. Although relapses are possible, there is a better chance for less slipping if there is a good support system in place for the recovering addict.