Hard drugs and alcohol. Close up

How does addiction happen? For anyone with a loved one battling addiction, it is critical to understand what is happening, but it is often hard to understand why. Addiction is a disease, something people cannot control once it begins. Yet, there is a process that happens. Understanding that process and where a person is in it can make a big difference in your loved one’s future.

At America’s Rehab Campuses, we offer a wide range of drug and alcohol treatment programs designed to provide you with the very best level of resources to heal.

The 3 Steps Explained

Not everyone goes through these steps or stages at the same pace. As a progressive disease impacting the brain and daily life, it can be essential to recognize addiction so you can get the help you need.

#1: Intoxication and binging

When a person starts to use alcohol or drugs, the substance triggers the reward system, the area in the brain that recognizes things that feel good. The brain releases dopamine, a pleasure hormone that makes you feel good and creates the high you feel while using. In this stage, a person is using these substances because they like the way these substances make them feel. During this initial period, several things typically happen:

  • A person begins drinking and using drugs often, even when they did not set out to do so
  • They begin to have problems with relationships, school, work, and other responsibilities
  • There is a need to increase the amount of substances being taken to get the same effect due to the development of tolerance
  • They’ve tried to stop and failed to do so

#2: Withdrawal and negative affect

In this second stage, a person tries to stop but finds out they cannot do so. In this situation, the substance is not bringing them pleasure as it was. They are now using because they need to avoid withdrawal pain and discomfort. In this stage, a person is facing full chemical dependency, and that means that they are unable to stop. Some things are likely to happen:

  • A person’s nervous system is unable to respond well to substances, and they feel as though they have to have it
  • If they try to stop using, the brain releases chemicals that create the feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Physical and psychological dependence is present
  • It isn’t possible to stop on our own

#3: Anticipation

In this final stage, a person hits rock bottom. At this point, the brain has been rewired, and they are unable to stop using. In fact, the brain feels as though it cannot stop using because it could die without it. In this situation, a number of changes are occurring:

  • Decision-making, learning, and restraint areas of the body are no longer functioning as they should
  • The most important thing in life right now is that substance because it absolutely cannot be avoided
  • Many people are not who they used to be but rather unable to maintain responsibilities
  • Often, a person has legal and financial problems at this point

Finding Help at Any Stage

No matter which stage you may be in, it is essential to reach out to an experienced drug and alcohol treatment center. Our team may recommend the use of medical detox to help you get back your footing. If you or a loved one are suffering from any of these stages of addiction reach out to America’s Rehab Campuses today. Our compassionate staff is here to help walk you through what area of treatment best fits your needs and get you started on your road to recovery today.