Typically, the first stage is experimenting, or using alcohol or other drugs for the first time.
Although there is no regular pattern of use at this time, the alcohol or other drug is used “to have fun”.
As the level of frequency of use increases, it becomes habitual; it is usually at the habitual stage that friends and family may first recognize the use.
Abuse occurs when the person continues to use the alcohol or other drug despite negative consequences, such as missing days of employment, problems with family relationships, financial issues or legal troubles.
Finally, addiction occurs when that person is completely involved with and dependent on alcohol or other drugs, sometimes described as “living to use and using to live”.
Addiction is a bio-psycho-social It is chronic, progressive, sometimes fatal, and has both genetic and environmental roots. Often, addiction is characterized by periods of relapse and periods of recovery. Addiction transcends economic, social, racial/ethnic, religious, occupational, or age groups. Addiction, also referred to as chemical dependency, manifests as a compulsion that drives an individual to continue to behave in a way that is harmful to him or herself, and loved ones, despite negative consequences. Among youth, it is an urgent issue as the human brain does not fully develop until age thirty.
It is not a character flaw or a moral deficiency. It is a disease. Treatment for addiction is as effective as treatments for other chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma or hypertension.
If you, or someone you love, has an alcohol or other drug problem, the Drug Abuse Alternatives Center (DAAC) can help. Call toll-free (877) 888-DAAC (3222) or (707) 544-3295 for more information.