IS IT AN ADDICTION?Stages of Addiction
Note: The following examples are used for illustrative purposes only. Please contact an agency that specializes in addictions to do an assessment or evaluation if you have concerns.
Non-use – When a person does not use alcohol or other drugs. An example of this is: A 30-year old woman goes to a restaurant, party, or bar and does not consume alcohol.
Use - The ingestion of alcohol or other drugs without experiencing any negative consequences. For example, a person in a social setting consumes alcohol responsibly and is given a ride home by a sober friend.
Misuse - When a person experiences negative consequences from the use of alcohol or other drugs, it is clearly misuse. For example, a 30-year old woman uses alcohol on an infrequent basis, her employer throws a party and the 30-year old woman drinks more than usual and on the way home she is arrested for DUI. She may not really have a problem with alcohol but in this instance, she experiences a negative consequence from drinking.
Abuse - It can be considered abuse if, in spite of negative consequences, a person continues to consume drugs or alcohol. If the 30-year old woman above had no substance abuse problem she would abstain from alcohol as getting a DUI would be enough of a deterrent. However, shortly thereafter this woman goes to another party and there she drinks in excess and then gets behind the wheel of her car again. This would be considered abuse.
Dependency/Addiction - The compulsive use of alcohol or other drugs in spite of adverse, repeated, or negative consequences. For example, the woman received two DUIs in one year. She was on probation and would be sentenced to one year in prison if she was caught using alcohol or drugs, but she continued to drink. The woman would be clearly addicted to alcohol because the negative consequences did not impact or deter her use.