Millions of children and adults suffer from substance use disorders (SUDs). But how do we go from not using drugs or alcohol, to developing an SUD? Before developing a full-blown substance use disorder, we go through various stages of addiction. Each stage has its own signs and symptoms. When we or someone else develop an SUD, we need professional help. A bay area recovery center like Summit Estate Recovery is an example of a professional organization that offers a full range of addiction recovery treatments.
Stage 1: Initiation and experimentation
Most people try drugs or alcohol before adulthood. Experimentation is very common during the teen years. People try alcohol or drugs because of curiosity or because their friends are doing it. They might feel pressured into using a substance by their peer group. After initiation, we either stop or carry on. If the substance is freely available and friends are using it, we are more likely to continue.
Stage 2: Regular use
Now, the person regularly uses the drug of choice. Risky behavior can become a problem, like driving under the influence or binge drinking. They might become anxious, depressed or, in a child, defiant. They will be using more frequently. Maybe not every day, but perhaps binge drinking over weekends. A pattern might develop. For example, drinking or drugging when bored, or lonely, or stressed. The person will be using with others, but also starting to use alone.
Stage 3: Risky use
Using is having a negative influence on the person’s life. The substance is now a threat to the person’s safety or to the safety of others. For example, if someone is regularly using and driving, they probably have fallen foul of the law. Work or school performance are suffering, and the person might have changed their group of friends. The person’s behavior will definitely have changed.
Stage 4: Dependence
There are three steps to becoming dependent on a substance. First is tolerance when you need more of the substance to get the same ‘high’. Then there is physical dependence on the substance. This is when you get withdrawal symptoms if you don’t use your drug of choice. Finally, there is psychological dependence when you get cravings. You will be using a lot more and a lot more often. You might try to quit, but find you can’t. Detoxing at a bay area recovery center like Summit Estate can ease such dependence.
Stage 5: Substance use disorder
An SUD takes some time to develop and relapse is common. Now you feel you can’t live without your substance. You can’t control your use and lie about how much you’re using. You stop doing things you used to like. You can’t see that your behavior and relationships are problematic. Your ability to learn, your motivation, emotions, ability to make judgments and memory will probably be affected. At this stage, quitting alone is not an option. Professional help is required.
Stage 6: Treatment
There are many ways in which SUDs can be treated. Different rehab centers offer different programs. Ask your doctor for a referral. Your treatment is likely to include an initial detox, therapy and counseling, and medication. Summit Estate, a bay area recovery center is an example of a center that can offer you freedom from addiction. Al-Anon, Narc-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can also help affected family and friends. It certainly is possible to gain freedom from addiction. For more information about Summit Estate, call (866) 317-0458. Their team is ready to help in any way they can.