One of the messages we find most difficult to convey to family members is the fact that there are at least four stages of addiction, it is not something we just suddenly wake up with one morning. Neither are the four stages of addiction are not just restricted to ‘those poor unfortunate people’ who sleep on park benches.
Addictions can and do creep into the most loving and stable family homes right across the social spectrum. At Bethesda we treat your addiction as if it was a fatal disease, but we resist treating everyone the same and/or trying to teach you that ‘this disease is something you were born with and it is something you will have to live with until you die’. We believe the four stages of addiction are born in certain personal, social, and psychological climates, which then develop and progress through various degrees of potency.
It is also our belief that in much the same way as there are four stages of addiction, it is just the same for recovery but in reverse, and through our approach, lengthy and fruitful recoveries are frequently captured. In Bethesda’s therapeutic climate, recovery becomes a reality and then it begins to develop through the amendment of personal, social, and psychological norms.
The following information has been adopted by Bethesda from The Breining Institute.
The 4 stages of addiction:
Stage 1: Pre-addiction Phase (Chemical Users – Needs Vigilance)
- Chemical use is socially motivated
- Psychological relief from the chemical use and the corresponding atmosphere
- Starts to use chemicals as a relief of stress
- Increase of tolerance to the chemical
- Substance use starts to increase gradually
Stage 2: Prodromal Phase (Chemical Abusers – Needs intervention, may need treatment)
- Starts to experience chemically-induced memory loss and/or black-outs
- Starts to take substances secretly
- Gulping or hurriedly consuming the chemicals
- Feelings of guilt and shame over behaviours whilst intoxicated
- Phase can last from anywhere between six months and four to five years
Stage 3: Crucial Phase (Chemically Dependent – Needs short to medium term treatment)
- Loss of control over amount consumed immediately following the first drink/drug
- Explanations and rationalisations are offered and repeated for the use of the chemicals
- Relational problems begin – at home, in friendships, in the work place
- Loss of interest in social and/or recreational activities
- Hospitalizations begin
Stage 4: Chronic Phase (Chemically Dependent – Needs medium to long term treatment)
- Drinking and/or drugging at the start of the day
- Decrease in tolerance to the substance; overdoses begin
- Tremors and/or hallucinations
- Physical deterioration
- Hospitals, treatment centres, prisons and death.