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Stages of addiction – 4: Chemical dependency

Recognizing an addiction problem in a near and dear one is the most difficult thing to do. However, there are certain general signs of addiction, such as lack of control, or inability to stay away from a substance or behavior, decreased socialization, among others, which indicate an addiction problem in a loved one. Therefore, once these symptoms are identified, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. But the first step to getting rid of the devastating habit is to admit that the problem exists.

Evidently, addiction is actually a chronic disease that has a long lasting impact on the brain’s memory, reward and motivation functions. Thus, just like any other disease, even addiction goes through several stages of development before becoming a threat to life. Precisely, drug addiction is a process in itself, with four main stages comprising experimentation, regular use, risky use/abuse, and drug addiction and dependency. But, when it comes to full-blown drug abusers, who have reached the fourth stage, addiction is often intertwined with physical dependence on drugs.

Drug-dependent individuals are unable to stop using drugs on their own

Chemical dependency is the stage where the body becomes completely dependent on addictive substances, owing to an excessive use of the substance, which eventually alters the chemistry of the brain in a manner that it has lost its natural capacity to perform its functions and role. Sadly, a person dependent on some kind of drug continues to use it despite experiencing increased challenges in one’s physical and mental health, relationships, finances, job security, etc. Many a times, chemical dependency may lead to devastating consequences, including death. This happens when the user is not able to completely abstain from the addictive substance despite undergoing treatment and therapy.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), drug dependency is different from drug abuse. Interestingly, drug abuse is the nascent stage of dependence, which implies that when substance abuse becomes more chronic and frequent, it might increase the risk of dependence disorder.

On the other hand, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has segregated chemical dependency into two components, such as psychological dependence and physical dependency. While in case of psychological dependence, the drug is needed to experience the feeling of wellbeing, physical dependence refers to the tolerance developed by the body and a sudden flaring-up of withdrawal symptoms, soon after quitting the addictive substances. However, as per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), tolerance, dependence and withdrawal develop differently, depending on the type of substance abused.

Seeking professional help

Drugs not only affects the lives of those addicted to them, but also their near and dear ones. Drug abuse may affect one’s mental health, and an overdose can prove fatal. There can be various reasons for drug abuse. Seeking the right treatment at the earliest becomes vital to get rid of addiction and reclaim sobriety.

Despite rules being formulated at the federal level, there has not been much improvement in the drug abuse situation in the country. Millions of people still fight this battle every day, but it is nearly impossible to fight it alone. If left untreated, an addiction can lead to devastating consequences.

Therefore, if you know someone who is showing dependency on drugs or alcohol, the 24/7 Recovery Helpline can help find the best drug rehab centers in the U.S. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online for further advice on various drug and alcohol treatment centers available in your vicinity.

Read the other part of the series “Stages of addiction:”

  1. Seeking refuge
  2. Regular use of alcohol
  3. Clinging to the substance

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