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It’s generally understood that there are several phases of addiction. The addiction cycle is used by professionals to help understand what those who struggle with addiction are going through and how to help them recover. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, you are not alone. Addiction is one of the most common afflictions in the United States and worldwide. The nature of the human condition means that some people will become addicted to certain negative behaviors. You may or may not have addictive personality traits that make you more vulnerable to addiction than the next person. Whether or not you carry these traits may mean that the early phases of addiction have a more powerful grasp on you. This is why it’s so important to learn about the phases of addiction, and Ethan Crossing Recovery is here to help.

What Are The Signs of Addiction?

man thinking about the phases of addictionIt is helpful to know when you or a loved one should seek treatment for addiction at an addiction treatment center. Of course, you cannot know when it’s time to seek treatment unless you know what signs to look for. Common signs of addiction include:

  • Poor job performance or school performance
  • Inexplicable financial trouble
  • Loss of control over daily life
  • Giving up on pastimes and social activities

If you notice that you or a loved one are exhibiting these signs of addiction, it’s possible that it’s time to seek treatment from a substance abuse treatment center such as Ethan Crossing.

What Are The Phases of Addiction?

There are typically five phases of addiction. Each phase leads into the next phase which is more serious. Once a person reaches the last phase, it’s imperative to seek professional help. However, you need not wait until things become dire before you seek help from a residential treatment program like Ethan Crossing. Following is a rundown of the addiction cycle.

First Experience

The first phase is the first experience or the introduction to the addictive behavior or substance. In people with strong addictive personality traits, just one experience with the addictive substance or behavior may be enough to trigger a full-blown addiction. This is why it can be helpful to understand if you do have addictive personality traits. If this is the case, you may want to avoid even trying out a substance or addictive behavior. Common first experiences include smoking a cigarette, trying your hand at gambling, or sipping your first beer.

Routine Use

The next phase of addiction is routine use. A person who struggles with addiction may believe that it is perfectly normal and part of an everyday scenario to have a drink when they come home after work, stop off at the casino every weekend, or rely on medication to relax or get to sleep. Once the substance or behavior becomes part of the everyday experience, it’s very likely that the behavior will lead to the next phase of addiction.

Risky Behavior

The next phase of the addiction involves risky behavior. This is frequently witnessed when a person who struggles with alcohol dependence makes the choice to drive to the store to get more alcohol after they have already been drinking at home. Another example is an easy willingness to purchase drugs from a stranger on a street corner in order to get the desired feeling of being high. If you are participating in risky behavior, seek help from a drug addiction treatment program.


The dependence phase is when the person doesn’t feel that they can function without engaging in the behavior or indulging in the addictive substance. Both physical and psychological cravings develop in this stage.

Addictive Disorder

In this final stage, the person begins to lose things in their life. They may drop out of school, lose the lease on their apartment, or lose their family. The addiction has essentially ruined their life.

Get Addiction Help at Our Recovery Center

Don’t wait until addiction has ruined your life before getting help at Ethan Crossing. We can help you during any phase of addiction. Please contact us at 833.691.0736 to begin your journey to recovery today.