Experts in the field of substance abuse explain the 3 stages that an individual experiences through addiction. These phases describe the initial signs of addiction to the eventual changes in brain structure brought on by repetitive substance abuse.

The first stage is the binge and intoxication stage. This stage consists of the use of a drug that elicits pleasurable feelings creating a cycle that continuously increases the substance use. The next stage is the stage of withdrawal and negative affect. After entering the cycle of drug abuse, the individual’s brain structure changes and begins to identify the substance as normal. Instead of being used primarily for pleasure the substance is needed to avoid negative feelings and withdrawal. The final stage is preoccupation and anticipation. During this stage an individual feels an increased anticipation for the substance and is motivated to attain the drug by any means necessary. The continued abuse of an addictive drug over a period of time will also lead changes in a person’s neurocircuitry, ultimately changing the way they think, learn and make decisions.

Click here to read the full article written by Eugene Rubin for Psychology Today.