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3 Stages Of Addiction

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The 3 Stages Of Addiction Are Based In The Brain

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the 3 stages of addiction are based in different areas of the brain, and these 3 stages of addiction are the binge/intoxication stage, the withdrawal/negative affect stage, and the preoccupation/anticipation stage.

A person who struggles with addiction moves through the stages in cycles, and understanding these stages is helpful if you want to know how addiction works, how it can be treated, and how it truly is a brain disease that requires treatment, just like any other medical condition.

The First Of The 3 Stages Of Addiction: The Binge/Intoxication Stage

The binge/intoxication stage, which is the first of the 3 stages of addiction, occurs when a person uses a drug and experiences the pleasurable effects of being high or under the influence.

This stage begins in an area of the brain called the basal ganglia, and it involves an intense rush of pleasure, as drugs activate the brain’s dopamine system, which is very rewarding. This rush of pleasure reinforces the act of using drugs and causes people to continually seek them out to achieve the same feeling.

Furthermore, as experts explain, the rewarding effects of drugs can cause the brain to begin to associate other things with the pleasurable feeling of being high. For example, the brain will begin to feel pleasure in response to places a person uses drugs and the people they are with when they use drugs. This means a person is more likely to seek out drugs when they are around these people and places.

The Withdrawal/Negative Affect Stage Of The 3 Stages Of Addiction

After a person passes through the intoxication stage, they move to the withdrawal/negative affect stage of the 3 stages of addiction. This stage involves a part of the brain called the amygdala, and it occurs when a person comes off of drugs and starts to experience withdrawal symptoms, which include negative emotions as well as symptoms that are similar to what a person would experience with a physical illness.

When a person goes through withdrawal, the reward system in the basal ganglia shuts off, and the amygdala, which is the brain’s stress system, becomes active. This quickly sets up a cycle, where a person desires to return to the intoxication stage of the 3 stages of addiction, in order to feel pleasure again and find relief from withdrawal symptoms.

The Preoccupation/Anticipation Stage In The 3 Stages Of Addiction

During the third stage of the 3 stages of addiction, the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for planning and decision making, becomes active, as a person starts to experience drug cravings. This stage begins after a person has had a period of abstinence from drugs, which may be only a few hours for someone who has a severe drug addiction. Once a person becomes intent on seeking drugs, the prefrontal cortex activates the brain’s “go system,” leading a person to have a strong urge to seek out drugs. This final stage in the 3 stages of addiction leads right back to the intoxication stage once a person uses drugs again.

How The 3 Stages Of Addiction Is Helpful for Understanding Addiction

The cyclical nature of the 3 stages of addiction shows how drug addiction truly is a legitimate medical condition and a brain disease. When a person uses drugs, specific areas of the brain become active, causing the experience of using drugs to be extremely pleasurable and rewarding.

This drives a person to continue using drugs, which can ultimately result in addiction. Since the brain’s “go system” becomes active when a person craves drugs, the act of taking drugs can become an automatic process over time. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, addiction involves compulsive drug seeking, and once a person becomes addicted, they struggle to control the impulse to use drugs, even when they experience negative consequences from addiction.

Signs Of Addiction

If you are wondering about the 3 stages of addiction, you may also be concerned that you have an addiction yourself. If this is the case, knowing the signs of addiction can be helpful. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the clinical term for an addiction is a substance use disorder. Some symptoms of a substance use disorder include using larger amounts of drugs than intended, being unable to cut down on drug use, having difficulty fulfilling duties at work or home because of drugs, and continuing to use drugs, even when it causes health problems.

Additional signs of a substance use disorder include spending a significant amount of time looking for or using drugs or giving up other activities in favor of drug use. It is easy to see how these symptoms are linked to the 3 stages of addiction. When a person experiences changes in the brain that lead them to seek out drugs, they will give up other activities in favor of drug use or continuing using drugs in spite of consequences, because of changes in the brain and the cyclical nature of the 3 stages of addiction.

How To Break The Cycle Of The 3 Stages Of Addiction

Since the 3 stages of addiction are cyclical and involve changes in the brain, most people need treatment to stop using drugs. While the best form of treatment will vary for each person, certain factors are associated with better outcomes. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, addiction is treatable, and the best addiction treatment will address a person’s unique needs.

It is also important to remain in treatment for a sufficient amount of time; three months is generally the minimum requirement, but spending even more time in treatment is beneficial. Behavioral treatments are also a necessary component of addiction treatment, because they can help people to develop coping skills to overcome triggers of addiction.

Resurgence California Drug Rehab

If you have been struggling with the 3 stages of addiction and are seeking California drug rehab, Resurgence has multiple locations in Orange County, and we offer detox, as well as outpatient and inpatient drug rehab. If you choose us as your inpatient rehab provider, you will complete your treatment in a homelike setting, with easy access to area amenities, including beaches, piers, swimming pools, waterfalls, and outdoor shopping. We offer an individualized treatment plan to every patient, so you can be sure Resurgence California will meet your needs.

Paying For California Drug Rehab

Once you make the decision to go to rehab, you have to find a way to pay for it.

Fortunately, at Resurgence, we offer a free, confidential insurance verification program to make the process easier.

Simply give us a call or fill out a form on our website, and a member of our team will tell you what services your plan covers and how much you can expect to pay out of pocket for treatment.

If you do not have insurance or your provider does not cover rehab, we will work with you to create a private payment plan.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

Contact us today to discuss your options and learn how Resurgence California can help you to break free from the 3 stages of addiction.

Sources:

1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424849/
2) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/science-drug-use-addiction-basics
3) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment

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