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The Stages of Addiction

stages of addiction

Understanding addiction can be overwhelming for those using and their loved ones. People across the country live with addiction every day. Unfortunately, judgment, stigmas, and misinformation can make it difficult for those living with addiction to cope and thrive in today’s society. Today, many people struggle to understand the stages of addiction and how daily life affects impulses and behaviors. Addiction counseling can help those living with addiction and their loved ones gain understanding and compassion for one another throughout recovery.

If you or someone in your life needs treatment for addiction, Serenity Grove Recovery is here for you. Our inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment programs provide dual diagnosis and addiction counseling in beautiful Athens, GA. Call us today at 844.904.3485 to speak to our staff.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a complex, treatable disorder in which someone engages in harmful behavior despite its consequences. Individual addiction triggers and predispositions differ, however, brain chemistry is key to understanding addiction. When a person uses drugs or alcohol or even social media, their brain is flooded with pleasure chemicals like dopamine. This can be rewarding and exhilarating. Over time, drugs and alcohol alter brain chemistry, depleting natural production levels of necessary chemicals. The brain then relies on substances to create these chemicals.

For many, addiction triggers come from intense stress, prolonged stress, trauma, and undiagnosed mental health disorders. Societal expectations, fear of failure, and family dynamics can also play into addiction. Today, half of those living with addiction also live with co-occurring mental health disorders like anxiety, ADHD, and depression.

What Are the Stages of Addiction?

It’s easier to understand addiction and addiction cycles step by step. The quick reward of dopamine, serotonin, and other chemicals keeps the cycle moving. The stages of the addiction cycle include:

  • Curiosity and initiation: trying drugs, alcohol or other behaviors to exercise independence and control.
  • Experimentation: trying different substances, pushing personal boundaries through experimentation.
  • Regular use: social drinking and social drug use become part of a person’s lifestyle.
  • Risky use: increased use and habitual use.
  • Dependence: the brain and body have become dependent on a substance.
  • Addiction: dependence, risk-taking behavior, and preoccupation with a substance or compulsive behavior.

When someone reaches the addiction stage of use, they experience withdrawal symptoms when a substance leaves their bloodstream. This is the brain’s way of saying it needs more of the substance to perform various functions. Withdrawal can be physically, emotionally, and psychologically overwhelming without trained medical and therapeutic support. For many, withdrawal symptoms may be their first sign a habit has become an addiction.

Benefits of Addiction Counseling for Addiction Treatment

Addiction counseling and therapy are often the best ways to break addiction cycles. Various forms of behavioral talk therapy and alternative therapies help clients understand their impulses, emotions, desires, and needs. For many, an addiction counselor can help diagnose underlying mental health disorders and provide treatment options.

Uncovering mental health disorders and gaining new perspectives from a therapist can bring relief, practical tools, and successful sobriety. Therapists can offer consistent support, communication tools, and new ways to cope with daily stress. Many programs now focus on trauma therapy, uncovering and healing traumatic wounds to reduce addiction triggers.

Begin Addiction Counseling Today at Serenity Grove Recovery

Understanding addiction takes time. So does asking for help. If you or someone you love is ready for help, call Serenity Grove Recovery today. Our inpatient and outpatient programs tailor addiction treatment to each person’s needs. Our family-run clinic offers dual diagnosis, psychotherapy, medically assisted detox, and a range of alternative therapies for lifelong recovery support. Call us today at 844.904.3485 to learn more about the benefits of addiction counseling.