Identifying the Stages of Addiction

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  • 0:00 Addiction
  • 0:45 Experimentation & Regular Use
  • 2:28 Dependence & Addiction
  • 3:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

How does someone become an addict? Does it happen overnight? This lesson goes over the different stages of drug use that lead to drug addiction, including how they progress from one to the next.


Meet Jack. Jack is a really good student. He is getting straight A's, is on the dean's list, is the captain of the football team, and regularly attends worship services. Perhaps he's even a role model to younger kids, and his parents are so proud of him! But, what Jack doesn't know is that something is about to ruin his life. One little poor decision, made with little foresight in mind, will derail his life from potentially becoming the next Einstein or Michael Jordan to ending up homeless by age 25.

So, what is this thing that is about to ruin Jack's life? It's addiction. Addiction is a psychological and/or physiological dependence on a drug.

Experimentation & Regular Use

Very few people become addicted to drugs literally overnight. It is something that more commonly happens over a longer period of time than that. Let's look at how this process usually goes.

One day, Jack is in the locker room getting ready for a big game. One of his friends comes over and tells him that if he takes this one little magical pill, he will run much faster, and he'll feel like he's invincible. Jack considers it. What harm can it do? He's just going to experiment this one time, and that'll be it.

This is how drug addiction begins - through experimentation. It is the stage of drug use where an individual tries new drugs and eventually settles on one drug or another as his main choice. Jack takes the pill and scores more touchdowns than he's ever scored before. He doesn't use it regularly just yet - and may even avoid using it for days or weeks on end - because he feels like he's in control and doesn't care for the drug other than on big game days. Eventually though, as Jack sees how this drug makes him feel on game days, he thinks why not do this more regularly to feel great all of the time?

So, Jack enters the second stage leading to drug addiction, regular use, the habitual use of drugs. Meaning, Jack takes this stuff quite a bit. It becomes routine. Every time he's about to play a game, not just an important game, Jack takes the magical pill. He's beginning to develop a pattern of regular use. At this point, he's not dependent on the drug--he can stop when he wants to--and it may not even really negatively affect his life. Not yet, anyway.

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