Three main stages of drug addiction with symptoms

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Psychologists and experts in addiction medicine define drug addiction as a disease characterized by both physical and psychological health impairments. According to the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia drug addiction is "a pattern of substance use leading to significant impairment in physical and mental functioning." Drug addiction is conventionally divided into three stages:

Drug addiction stages - first stage

First of addiction stages is a psychological dependence on drugs (stage of
Preoccupation/Anticipation), which is  characterized by the following symptoms:

  • The constant craving for the drug.  An overwhelming desire to useFirst stage of drug addiction the drug of choice to relieve the state of psycho-emotional stress  preoccupies the user despite the other responsibilities and events in his/ her life.
  • The altered psyche.  Nervousness, frequent mood swings, depression, irritability, agitation, aggressiveness,  difficulty with  concentration are the common signs of progressively developing addiction.

Second stage and symptoms of drug addiction 

  • Is the stage of intoxication. This stage is  characterized by the further worsening the above mentioned symptoms of drug addiction and appearing the new ones:
  • The growing tolerance. The longer  the drugs are introduced into the body  the larger amounts  of drugs  are  necessary to continue experiencing the same euphoric effects.  The  increased  doses  of the drug (binging) push the effects of intoxication to a dangerous level.
  • The emergence of binge use (systematic alcohol or drug consumption for two or more days in a row).
  • The emergence of withdrawal syndrome –  uncomfortable, very often disruptive physical and Symptoms of drug addiction and drug withdrawal mental condition  that happens when the body is sharply deprived of the psychoactive substance that it is used to getting. The clinical picture of withdrawal syndrome varies and mostly depends on the type  of the using substance. The most common symptoms of drug addiction and opioid withdrawal include the constant, deep,  exhausting  pain in muscles and bones all over the body, sensation of almost unbearable inner cold, frequent cold-and-hot flashes, shivering, sneezing, watery eyes, sweating, cramps in stomach area, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, restless legs, increased nervousness and irritability, sleep disorders, insomnia, and etc.
  • The negative and persistent changes in personality: increased emotional sensitivity,  explosiveness, frequent mood swings, narrowing of vital interests, aggressiveness, apathy, impaired memory and intelligence,  tendency to depression, dishonesty, permanent conflicts at work and home, problems with the law.

Drug dependence symptoms in third stage

Third stage of drug dependence is the stage of Physical, Mental and Social Degradation.

  • Presence of irreversible pathological changes in the internal organs and systems of the  body (liver failure due to toxicity and viral hepatitis, toxic encephalopathy, immune system disorders,, AIDS, etc.).
  • Development of dementia and other drug related mental disorders. The chronic use of certain drugseffects of drug addiction  increases the risk of cognitive impairment and  dementia in later life.  Currently available evidence indicates that  heavy, long-term drug consumption is likely to have a negative impact on cognitive function.  Longer-term smoking of marijuana  is associated with increased risk of intellectual deterioration and possibly schizophrenia and  dementia. The chronic use of benzodiazepines and psycho-stimulants also leads to increased risk of cognitive impairment.  For example, 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, (MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy), produces the long-term deficit in serotonin function in the brain, resulting in  mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Chronic drug abuse by adolescents during formative years is a particular concern because it  interferes with normal socialization and cognitive development and thus frequently contributes to the development of mental disorders.
  • Social degradation by drug dependenceloss of marriage, family; spoiled  interpersonal relationships; degradation in professional skills and activities and as a result the problems with employment and financial issues; problems with law-abiding.

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