Addiction wears many faces. It is the sum of a person’s unhealthy behaviors and the destruction they cause to their life and the people who love them. However, the faces of addiction may look quite different depending on what stage of addiction or recovery the person is in.
Stages of Addiction
The person will be generally healthy, most likely with a wide social circle, job, and home. However, they have begun experimenting with alcohol, drugs, or sometimes problematic behaviors like gambling. At this stage it would be easy to stop; addiction has not settled in.
The person has incorporated their potential addiction into regular life. They may use it to unwind on the weekends, celebrate a milestone, or as a bonding activity with friends. The person is still functional, but people close to them may notice changes in behavior.
At this stage, the person is starting to lose whatever control they might have had over their addiction. The faces of addiction here can include indulging in their addiction daily, neglecting other bills to pay for it, or withdrawing from friends and workplace responsibilities. As they develop tolerance, they will seek out more intense experiences.
Addiction and Dependence
Addiction has dug deeply into the person’s day-to-day life, body, and mind. Despite experiencing significant consequences including health complications, job loss, and estrangement from loved ones, they cannot stop. Their chemical or psychological dependency is at the driving wheel of their life.
Stages of Recovery
This stage includes recognizing that there’s a problem and building the desire to change. It may be triggered by hitting ‘rock bottom’ or a court-ordered treatment program. In other cases the person recognizes on their own that their lives are out of control.
People who decide to kick their addiction will prepare for the fight. They may learn about their addiction, investigate therapy and 12-step programs, or discuss their problems with loved ones who have also fought dependencies. Other people who are pressured by family or are court-ordered into a recovery program may not experience this step. Instead, the program itself gathers resources for them.
At this stage, the person gets a combination of medical and psychological treatment for their addiction. They rally their social support and walk the long, challenging road of addiction recovery. This will include making life changes, adjusting their thinking, and building new habits.
Life After Addiction
Some people may find that they eventually no longer desire to indulge in their addiction. Others buckle down to a lifetime of vigilance and regular check-ins with therapists or loved ones. Both groups demonstrate a balanced life, healthy relationships, and the determination to stay addiction-free.