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Understanding the Levels of Alcohol and Drug Addiction


Drug or alcohol addiction doesn’t develop overnight, but it can be hard to see the progression until it reaches a level of constant use. A range of factors contribute to drug or alcohol abuse, including genetic predisposition, personality, and social influences. Despite these differences, the path to addiction can be clearly mapped out and understood. By taking the time to learn about the levels of addiction and the identifying cues associated with each one, you may be able to get help for yourself or a loved one before addiction reaches its final stage.

“There Are Different Levels of Addiction?”

Many people are surprised to hear that there are different levels of addiction, especially if they have no prior experience with the disorder. It may be tempting to accuse someone with any relationship to drugs or alcohol of having an “addiction,” but this fails to encompass the many stages of use that can lead to a genuine addiction. Understanding the different stages and the connection between them makes it easier to identify dangerous activity and begin looking for an appropriate program at a rehabilitation center. Remember that even if someone’s use has not yet reached the addiction stage, early intervention can help reduce the risk of long-term harm.

From Experiment to End: The Levels of Drug Addiction

Understanding the stages of addiction can help contribute to an early diagnosis and prevention. Drugs and alcohol both have a strong effect on the brain, which contributes to the progression from one stage to the next. Bear in mind that the levels of drug addiction do not necessarily proceed in order. For example, an individual may be reaching the stage of substance abuse, feel bad about it, and drop back down to using regularly before continuing through the rest of the stages.

  • Experimentation: Experimentation is the stage in which alcohol or a drug is tried for the first time. For many addicts, this stage occurs in the teenage years and is encouraged by friends or a particular social scene. The good news is that some who enter the experimentation level never feel the urge to use again and fade out of the cycle. Danger is still present in this early stage due to the fact that teenagers and young adults may not understand what they’re using or what the risks of that use are.
  • Using Regularly: At this level of use, drugs and alcohol are consumed regularly, usually as part of a social scene, but the individual is not yet addicted. Regular use is maintained as a way to relax or have fun and may not yet occur on a daily basis. Singular events of overuse, however, can lead to the individual making compromised decisions or engaging in dangerous behavior.
  • Substance Abuse: Singular events of overconsumption become more frequent, making the individual unable to maintain previously held standards in their school or workplace. Relationships may start to fray as the drug or alcohol use transforms from a social activity into a solitary one.
  • Drug Addiction: It is at this stage that the individual is unable to stop using drugs or alcohol, regardless of the negative impact on their health and livelihood. The individual now uses to abate cravings rather than to achieve a particular feeling. If they try to stop using suddenly, symptoms of withdrawal can make life unpleasant and can drive them back into using.

Treatment for All Levels of Drug Addiction

At WhiteSands Treatment Center, a private rehab in Fort Myers, Florida, we’re well-equipped to help our patients break free from the hold of drugs and alcohol, no matter what level of addiction they may be at. Our programs are high-quality, cost-effective, and led by fully qualified doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, and counselors. We specialize in individualized and dual-diagnosis programs, ensuring that the therapy you receive will be tailored to your unique history and needs. If you’re not sure what form of treatment you need, our free clinical assessment can help you determine the best option for you.

Call our phone line, staffed 24/7, or fill out the form here to learn more about the levels of drug addiction and how to find the help and care you deserve.

Contact us today for more information on our treatment programs.

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