The Vicious Cycle of Addiction: What Are the 6 Stages? 

Addiction has been described as a vicious cycle. If you have ever been in its grips, you will probably concur. It’s a nasty business that can feel dangerous and desperate for those mired in it. 

If you are caught in the throes of addiction, then a Pasadena SUD treatment program might be necessary to get you well again. You can look at that as a possibility if you live in the area and  

you’re having addiction-related health concerns.  

Before you make this move, though, it’s helpful to know about the various stages of addiction. Once you read about these, it’s often a lot easier to tell whether you are genuinely addicted to alcohol or drugs. 

We’ll discuss the six primary stages of addiction right now. 

Initial Use 

Someone who becomes addicted to a drug or alcohol always starts with the initial use phase. This is usually one of experimentation. They try their drug of choice or alcohol and find that they like it. 


They then push themselves to see how much ingestion of the drug or alcohol they can tolerate. They are trying to find the limits of how much they can use. They’re testing the limits of not only what the substance can do but how well their body can tolerate it before there are serious adverse effects.  


In this stage, the person using alcohol or their drug of choice learns to use the substance regularly. They will usually incorporate it into their daily routine, whether they have made the conscious choice to do so or not. They may feel like they are in control of their use at this point, but in actuality, the substance is getting the better of them.  


In this stage, the individual uses alcohol or their chosen drug regularly. A day usually will not go by when they don’t indulge. They often reach a point where they don’t feel normal without drinking or using their chosen drug.  

They likely will drink, smoke, or take their chosen drug in their accustomed manner before work, school, family events, etc. They will make time for it. They may still feel like they are in control, but that control is rapidly slipping.  


During the addiction phase, the afflicted individual gives up all pretense that they are the one in control of the addiction. Instead, the alcohol or drug they’re accustomed to using controls them.  

They know they can’t get through a full day without it, and they may notice both physical and psychological dependency. The addiction period is often marked by low points where the user will do just about anything to get their hands on their chosen substance.  


The relapse phase usually comes after the person kicks the habit and gets clean. They might feel determined that they won’t drink or use their chosen drug anymore. The urge is still there, though. They might be in danger of relapsing mere hours after getting clean, or they may backslide after years have passed.  

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