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What Are the Stages of Addiction?

In 2020, over 37.3 million people in the United States used illicit drugs. This includes medicines that are considered to be controlled substances by law. Despite the risks, millions of people still suffer from drug addiction each year.

Trying different substances at some point in your life is normal. However, only a very small percentage of people can say they don’t have an addiction to anything.

If those numbers are getting closer and closer to you, there’s no reason to panic. Especially if you still have time to seek treatment.

This article will help you understand the different stages of addiction. Read on to find out.


When a person first starts using a substance or engaging in a behavior. This can be a voluntary or involuntary act.

For some people, initiation is simply trying a substance or behavior once. For others, it may be a regular part of their life. Either way, this is the beginning of the addiction process.

The person may not be aware that they are addicted at this stage, but the addiction is developing. The person may start to crave the substance or behavior and feel like they need it to feel normal. This is the start of a long and difficult journey, but it is possible to recover with help.

Regular Use & Abuse

When an individual is using a substance regularly but is not yet addicted. This stage is often characterized by an escalation in use, as well as accompanying behaviors such as lying and stealing to get the drug.

In some cases, this stage can last for years without leading to addiction, but for others, it is a slippery slope that leads quickly to addiction. Treatment at this stage is often focused on helping the individual build a support system and find other outlets for their energy and emotions, as well as teaching them about the dangers of addiction.

Dependency & Tolerance

The dependency stage of addiction is when the individual is no longer able to function without the substance they are addicted to. This can be physical, mental, or emotional dependence.

The tolerance stage of addiction is when the individual needs more and more of the substance to get the same effect. This can lead to serious health problems and even death. They may also start to experience substance use disorder when they try to stop using the substance.


Addiction is a relapsing disease depicted by obsessive drug seeking and use despite negative effects. People with drug and alcohol addiction often continue consuming it despite the harm it causes. Over time, the brain changes how it responds to the drug.

By taking rehabilitation you can cure and avoid addiction, read these 10 signs of why it’s time for you to rehabilitate.

Be Aware of These Stages of Addiction

If you or a person you know is struggling with addiction, help is available. Addiction treatment centers offer various levels of care, from detox and inpatient care to outpatient programs and aftercare services. By understanding the different stages of addiction, you can choose the best course of treatment for your needs.

Did you find this article helpful? If so, be sure to check out our other posts on health and lifestyle.


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