Stages of Drug Addiction

Addiction affects everyone differently. Some people begin using drugs early, slowly developing physical and psychological dependence over the course of years. Others develop an addiction rapidly over months or even weeks. Regardless of the length of time it takes to develop a diagnosable substance use disorder, there are four distinctive stages of drug addiction. 

If you or someone you love has been experimenting with chemical substances, seeking help sooner rather than later can prevent a severe, life-threatening addictive disorder. At Spirit Mountain Recovery, we offer a multi-staged treatment program designed to help our clients overcome addiction while laying a solid foundation for continued recovery. To learn more about our Utah drug addiction rehab or to learn more about the stages of drug addiction, contact us today. 

What are the Stages of Drug Addiction?

There are four stages of drug addiction. The time it takes a person to advance from one stage to the next depends on several factors. In most cases, it takes a person anywhere from several months to several years to develop a physical and psychological dependence on a drug. The process of developing a diagnosable addictive disorder is impacted by the following:

  • The type of chemical substance being used (some substances, like heroin and methamphetamine, are more addictive than others). 
  • The age at which the person first started using drugs (those who start using drugs during adolescence are more likely to develop an addictive disorder later in life). 
  • The frequency of drug use (for example, daily drug users will develop an addiction more quickly than those who use drugs recreationally and occasionally). 
  • The method of ingestion (for example, intravenous drug users will develop a physical dependence more quickly). 

Some stages of drug addiction might be significantly shorter than others. For example, a person might begin experimenting with a drug and almost immediately start misusing the drug. If a person transitions from recreational drug use to problematic drug use in a short period of time, professional help should be sought as quickly as possible. 

Stage #1: Experimentation 

The first stage of drug addiction is experimentation. During this stage, a person voluntarily experiments with drugs without any significant consequences. People begin experimenting with drugs for a variety of reasons. They might be self-medicating an underlying mental health concern, giving into peer pressure, or simply looking for new ways to “have fun.” The majority of people stop using drugs after this stage. However, others transition from experimentation to regular drug use. 

Stage #2: Regular Drug Use 

During this stage of the drug addiction process, a person begins using their drug of choice more regularly. They might even use the drug daily. People can engage in regular drug use without developing physical or psychological dependence. However, the chances of dependence increase when the frequency of use increases. 

Stage #3: Risky Drug Use/Drug Abuse 

When a person begins engaging in risky drug use, it typically means they continue to use drugs despite personal consequences. These consequences can be legal, financial, interpersonal, or work-related. For example, a person might lose their job because they repeatedly show up to work intoxicated. Rather than try to address their drug use, they blame their employer and continue using drugs regularly. 

This is the stage during which symptoms of substance use disorder begin developing. These symptoms might look like preoccupation with the drug, continuing to use the drug despite negative consequences, and developing psychological symptoms (irritability, agitation, mood swings). 

Stage #4: The Development of Physical Dependence 

The development of physical dependence is the final stage of drug addiction. During this stage, the person loses control over their intake. They can no longer cut back on their substance use without experiencing withdrawal symptoms and intense drug cravings. At this stage, professional help has become necessary. 

Drug Addiction Treatment in Utah 

Finding drug addiction treatment in Utah is a straightforward process with the correct information in place. First, it is essential to determine the most appropriate level of care. The right level of care depends on the severity of the drug addiction. For example, those with moderate or severe addictive disorders benefit more from a multi-staged program of care, one that begins with medical detox progresses to residential treatment, and concludes with outpatient treatment. 

At Spirit Mountain Recovery, we offer the following levels of clinical care:

We also offer a treatment program for the loved ones of our clients. We believe in taking a comprehensive approach to drug addiction recovery, ensuring our clients have the tools and skills they need to maintain sobriety for years to come. 

Begin Healing at Our Utah Drug Addiction Rehab

If you or someone close to you has been struggling with the stages of drug addiction and are looking for effective drug rehab options in Utah, we are available to help. At Spirit Mountain Recovery, we offer a range of effective and individualized treatment options. We offer several levels of clinical care, including medically monitored detox, a men’s residential program, co-ed day programs, and co-ed intensive outpatient treatment. Contact us today to learn more about our prescription drug rehab in Utah or begin your recovery journey.

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