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There are recognizable stages of addiction for anyone, from friends and family to professionals in the medical field to be aware of, such as experimentation, regular use, problem and risky use, dependence and finally addiction itself. Individuals have a tendency to progress through these stages as they become fully addicted. Knowing and understanding these stages will help the individual enter drug rehab before the stages progress to a point that is detrimental for all concerned.

Experimentation is the major cause leading to a full-blown addiction. Drug experimentation starts either with peer pressure at parties, or for other reasons such as an individual just wanting to have an ‘altered-state’ experience, or they just want to know what their peers are talking about. The use of the substance is occasional, infrequent and most times, these individuals never try the substance again. It’s when they choose to continue using where the problem lies and leads to ‘Regular use’, the 2nd stage of addiction.

Use of a substance becomes frequent, and most times leads to anti-social behaviors , personality changes, lack of interest in activities, which then leads to ‘Problem and Risky Use’, the third stage of an addiction. This is when the individual starts to experience negative consequences from their abuse of the substance. For example, a problem could develop with their relationships with friends and family, physical issue could develop causing problems with their health, they could lose a job, get arrested or even cause a car accident. The third stage of an addiction: displaying risky behavior is very prevalent with 1/3 of the people in the United States.

Dependence and addiction, the 4th and 5th stages go together. Basically, the individual no longer cares about any negative consequences of their abuse of the substance. They are so dependent and addicted to the substance that the withdrawal symptoms become unbearable and their tolerance for the effects of the substance begins to increase, causing more abuse of the substance to where that individual is no longer in control of their behavior, they are absolutely unaware of the reality of their situation and can become extremely dangerous not only to other people, but to themselves. These individuals would do well to enter some type of drug abuse treatment program to address their problems.

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