Addiction Treatment: The 5 Stages of Addiction

Addiction does not start once but in stages. All over the world, people have one form of addiction they are dealing with. While some may be at the early stages of addiction, others are already battling full-blown addiction. Although the stages are generally the same for all types of addiction, the speed at which addiction occurs is different.  

Several factors determine this speed. This includes the substance you are abusing, how often you use it, your genetics, and your social environment. Our societies comprise several social activities such as pool parties, cookouts, and club parties. These events are convenient avenues to develop a culture of abusing substances, which is how substance addiction starts.

Therefore, you must understand the different stages of addiction so that you can make informed choices. Knowing about addiction early enough may speed up your recovery process. 

This article will help you understand the five stages of addiction and how you can approach recovery. Such an understanding will help you to quickly identify if you are developing alcohol or drug addiction. 

5 stages of addiction: What are They?

stages of addiction

Addiction has a stimulating effect on those who suffer from it. National Institute for Drug Abuse notes that addiction is the compulsive use of a substance without paying attention to its effects. This affects your health and takes away from the time you should spend on productive things. Once you can not do without it, you should know addiction is on its way.  

All the stages of addiction indicate how you continue to fall if you do not take caution. So, to track this process, we look at the following stages.

Addiction starts with use

Every form of abuse starts with the use of the substance. You can begin to use a substance for many reasons; the major one is to experiment. You want to know how it feels. Friends may encourage you to try out a substance. You may also be in the frenzy of a party and decide to try it out. 

This experimentation is common among adolescents who want to live in the moment and try out fun activities of life. Adolescents are not the only ones involved in substance use; adults also are. Adults often use a substance to blow off steam, deal with negative memories, or avoid worrying.  

Although you may drink responsibly or take a substance moderately, this does not stop addiction. Regulating substance use is not an effective way to address addiction. It is only a matter of time before substance use slowly gives way to other stages. That is how substance addiction starts.

From ordinary experimentation, you can start to develop an addiction. The speed at which this occurs depends on different factors. These factors include:

  • Whether you are suffering from isolation, depression, or any other form of social problems
  • Your community culture
  • The quality of your peers
  • Whether you have a genetic history of substance abuse
  • Mental health challenges

Therefore, substance use may or may not develop into an addiction, depending on these risk factors. Nonetheless, addiction starts with substance use.  

Habitual usage of any substance

How substance addiction starts is not rocket science. Once substance use becomes casual, patterns of use will emerge. Drinking and using substances becomes a norm at parties, during events, and when alone. This slowly progresses from peer pressure to personal choices. A person may start to take drugs before even stepping out of their homes. This is one of the most crucial stages of drug addiction. 

At this stage of chronic abuse, you start to see the substance as an equivalent of food. You begin to find comfort in using the substance, especially when you experience negative feelings. This is often because substance use helps people forget about their worries. 

Substance use only lasts for a short while. This is why people often engage in continued usage. By so doing, the effect can last longer than usual. At this point of chronic usage, you should start seeking affordable addiction treatment services.



Tolerance develops once you continue to take the substance regularly. Tolerance is when you need more dosage of the substance to achieve the same effect. This happens when you become so accustomed to the substance that the regular dosage no longer does the trick. 

You may start to feel the need for higher doses of medication to deal with pain against your regular doses. Another example is when you begin to take five bottles of beer against the former 2. Tolerance is a stage of addiction which warns that the expectation of the brain has increased. It is what comes before dependence.

You become dependent

This is one of the stages of addiction where steps must be taken to get professional addiction treatment. You see, when you feel the need to increase your doses, tolerance develops. 

However, when you start feeling the side-effects of not using the substance, that becomes dependence. You begin to show extreme signs of withdrawal once you become dependent. At this point, you can no longer do without the drug or alcohol. Dependence comes before addiction because when you are dependent, you will not feel alright until you use it.

Addiction is the ultimate

The final stage of substance abuse is addiction. Once you are addicted, the condition becomes more serious, and professional help becomes essential. When it’s most severe, addicts will feel like they are at “rock bottom”. 

As a chronic disease, you will need to seek medical diagnosis and help for your addiction issues. While addiction is a severe condition, it is not without treatment. Some treatments can help you control the cravings and attend to other symptoms you may have.

Related article: Benefits of Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment

Are There Any Stages for Addiction Recovery?

The process of overcoming an addiction is not an easy one. It is a journey that will take the addict some time. This recovery process is in stages, and they include contemplation, action, and termination.



At this stage, the addict admits the addiction’s adverse effects and may be open about it. For example, if you are an addict in this stage, you may disclose to a friend that you use a substance. 

But when such a friend speaks to you about treatment, you may say you have it under control. So, contemplation comes with the acceptance of the condition, but not of the possibility of recovery. 


In the action stage, the addict submits himself to the recovery process. This may be by engaging in a step-by-step program or any other treatment program. 

You are committed to making significant changes that will cure the addiction. This stage also involves being sober and staying away from the substance.


The termination stage indicates that the recovery process is complete. The significant thing here is that the addict is back to being healthy. Treatments are over, and adverse effects no longer exist. However, even after this stage, the former addict must take steps to ensure long-term sobriety.

Final Take

By now, you should have a full understanding of the different stages of addiction. What we did with this article is to help you understand addiction without overwhelming you. The knowledge of how addiction works will allow you to identify when it’s starting and what you should do.

Call Inspire Change Addiction Rehab in Vancouver for addiction treatment programs.



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