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Phases of Addiction All Play a Role

Phases of Addiction and Recovery - the Bergand Group

As mentioned many times previously, understanding addiction is the cornerstone of true recovery and aiding those who are struggling with substance abuse.  No matter the age or situation of the patient, researching the physical, mental, and emotional bases and impacts is a crucial piece of developing rehabilitation strategies that more effectively aid people.  Part of this process is examining the “phases of addiction” and how these stages, or levels, play a role in a person’s addiction and recovery experience.

A Look at the Phases of Addiction

Some researchers who work at the NIAAA (“National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism”) and the “National Institute of Drug Abuse,” respectively, have come together to identify and discuss the phases of addiction as they play out within the lives and bodies of affected individuals.  They are “binge and intoxication, withdrawal and negative affect, and preoccupation and anticipation (or craving).”  Each plays a role in the experience of someone with an addiction, whether it be to drugs, alcohol or anywhere in between, and understanding each step of the way is a crucial part of moving forward toward recovery and sobriety.  These phases of addiction are identified as the varying chemical shifts in the brain during the period of addiction.  Since they are physiological changes, they are difficult to return to their previous states afterward, hence a lot of the difficulty when it comes to addiction and recovery.

A lot of the initial problems (among others) in excessive alcohol and drug use is that it taps into the brain’s reward center and motivational processes, chemically leading the individual to feel that those substances are good for them based on how they make him or her feel.  This is a part of the first stage, the “binge and intoxication” phase, which results in that person’s inability to experience certain feelings (and chemicals, like dopamine) without the “aid” of a substance.  So much of the dangers in the phases of addiction are the resultant effects of “how various nerve cells in the limbic system communicate with each other,” or, in other words, how addiction manages to change brain chemistry over a short period of time.

Rather than imbibing to feel good, the patient takes a substance to avoid feeling bad: this is the second stage, or withdrawal and negative affect.  Where the patient was once having positive experiences as a result of the addiction, things are now warped to the point where the norm is a state of receiving “anti-reward” signals.  Their normal brain chemistry, adjusted with continued use of drugs or alcohol, is one that will punish them for not using.  When the last of the three phrases of addiction comes into play, the “person’s ability to resist strong urges is compromised, leading to compulsive behaviors” which can further impede the individual’s attempts to resist future use.  Preoccupation and anticipation, or craving, keep the patient thinking about the drug or drink and mire them there so that it’s nearly impossible for him or her to rise out of that stagnation alone.

This third stage means heavy impact on the brain and its chemistry, of “rewiring” and of impeding the person’s daily life and functioning in a dozen ways.  Cognitive systems are impaired as the individual’s sole focus becomes on obtaining and using that substance as a result of the chemical shifts that have taken place throughout the addiction period.  Depending on when in their life (that is, at what age) the person becomes addicted to a substance, the more or less difficult it will be for them to work against that “wiring” toward recovery.  Brain chemistry isn’t easy to change, particularly after an experience with heavy drug or alcohol use, but there is certainly hope.  Treatment centers who understand the phases of addiction from beginning to end are able to more effectively address each issue as it arises.  If you or someone you know is in need of addiction treatment, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and recovery.

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About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction and recovery fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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