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Stages of addiction – 3: Clinging to the substance

Addiction is not a choice but a serious mental problem. Apparently, when people start using drugs, they do not intend to get addicted, however, the drug gradually takes over their life causing irreparable damage to the brain. Sadly, addiction to substances is still considered a taboo in many cultures, which is why millions of people are deprived of the required treatment.

It is important to understand that no one is born to become addicted to drugs or alcohol, since any kind of addiction is triggered by an array of factors such as genetics, underlying mental health conditions or environmental factors. Just like any other disease, even addiction tends to deteriorate if not diagnosed and treated at the right time.

Although the path to addiction is different for every individual, it unusually develops in four stages such as experimentation, regular use, risky use/abuse, and drug addiction and dependency. It is important to know about the various stages of drug addiction so that the treatment can be sought at the right time.

Risky use and abuse of drugs

The user takes the risk of continuing with the consumption of illegal substances, despite knowing about the serious social and legal consequences. The presence of various warning signs of addiction, such as increased cravings, troubles in social or personal relationship, symptoms of depression or feeling of fatigue or irritability, sometimes hardly matters for a person delving deep into the scourge of addiction. Many people also end up getting involved in risky behaviors such as driving under the influence or having unprotected sex. Although these may sound trivial issues in the beginning, they may result in bigger problems later in life.

The users become so preoccupied with drugs that they start ignoring their relationship with family or friends, often alienating themselves from the world around them. Precisely, people start facing the consequences of their addiction to substances by experiencing a failing health, soured relationships and an unproductive life.

Depression – a serious consequence of addiction

Depression is a common negative side effect of addiction, especially in the third stage. It is at this stage when people realize their gradual shift toward addiction; however, they cannot help themselves from being trapped by the devastating habit. During the stage, the drug user is filled with grief and remorse and often expresses helplessness due to the damage caused by his or her substance abuse.

The resulting depression further forces the person to continue with the use of the substance, causing significant damage to every aspect of life. In fact, the presence of depression worsens the existing situation and makes the condition much more serious in the long run.

Road to recovery

It is easy to fall a prey to dangerous substances but very difficult to come out of its grip. Seeking treatment at the right time helps control the situation and improve the quality of life. Studies have established that early-age consumption of drugs is detrimental to brain development. In the short term, drugs negatively impact attentiveness, retention, learning, coordination and decision-making. Long-term negative effects of drug use, especially by young adults, include reduced attention levels, lower IQ, inhibited processing abilities, poor performance at school, unemployment and lower satisfaction levels.

Hence, if you or your loved one is fighting an addiction to drugs or any other substance, contact the 24/7 Recovery Helpline to know about various drug rehab centers in your area. To know about our addiction treatment centers in U.S., call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online with our treatment advisors for expert advice about drug and alcohol abuse treatment centers in your vicinity.

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

1. Seeking refuge

2. Regular use of alcohol

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