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Phases of addiction

 Identifying yourself with the various phases of addiction :

Addiction is a process and not just “a one day event” . Let us try to go through the following information and see how well we could relate our-self with it.This might give you an idea where you started from, where you currently are and where you might be heading in future.


Introductory Phase

It is the first phase of addiction where the person starts using drug infrequently and on special occasions like on some birthday or party and his drug /alcohol use is only at invitation. Here a person doesn’t have much access to drug or dealers. The positives are felt such as becoming larger than life, a limelight of the party or experiencing  euphoria. These Positives coming out of the use outweighs far more than any negatives attached with it. The negatives are very few, like high cost of drugs or fear of getting caught etc. One discovers drug use as a solution to everyday problems in life.

It is a conscious choice in rational brain, not in the addictive brain. Everything is a conscious act, person buys a drugs, and gets the effects of the use. There is very little conditioning to triggers at this stage. Person thinks of drugs only occasionally. The craving response has not developed as yet. Life continues normally except for occassional use of drug.

Maintenance phase

It is the second phase of addiction where slowly but surely drug/alcohol use increases, to become a regular feature of life. Negative consequences start to develop. There are still some positives attached like temporary increase in confidence or work efficiency or still experiencing occasional highs. Here rationalizations, justifications and manipulations; the three hallmarks of addiction become stronger. Drugs and alcohol use starts to take over some of the person’s regular life and obsessive thinking about drugs begin to grow. In this phase craving response begins to develop when met by some trigger to Use the substance.

The addictive brain now starts to drive the drug use. The person only obtains the drug or alcohol from his dealer and gets the physiological response as if the actual drug has been used. I

Disenchantment phase

Disenchantment is the third phase of addiction where drug/alcohol use continues to increase. A person starts using larger amounts of drugs/alcohol.

Now the negative outcomes start outweighing far more than any positives. This is the classical definition of addiction,  'continuous use despite negative consequences'. 

At this point triggers are many, more frequent and very strong which results in constant thoughts of getting and using drugs, despite knowing the negative consequences. One becomes powerless.

The person's normal life disappears.

Now the craving response starts to work overtime, the person just thinks and full blown physiological response develops as if he has already used the drug. The craving drives the person to obtain the drug and to use it.The whole process happens all in addictive brain and very little in rational brain.

Thoughts of using start to crowd out rational thought, conscious choice is gone and craving becomes very powerful. (In this phase Drunken driving, assaults, crimes, begging, borrowing, stealing, becomes common and the person wants bigger highs.

Disaster phase

It is the fourth phase of addiction where the struggle between addictive and rational brain is over. Use of drugs becomes automatic. Negatives outweighs far more than any positives. Triggers now include any emotion or any time of the day, or night.

The overpowering strength of the conditioned response, results in :

  • obsessive thoughts about using drugs
  • Powerful physical responses
  • Severe psychological dependence
  • Automatic use
  • And persistent paranoia

All functionality is lost and no matter how much these drugs are causing harm; in one's mind these chemicals become paramount source for his survival.