Addiction Downward Spiral
When individuals first begin using alcohol or drugs, they may at first experience pleasure and relaxation. It can even seem to some of these individuals like they have found the perfect solution to all their problems. Alcohol and drugs can make life easier in the beginning. They give shy people the courage to socialize and allow a temporary reprieve from stress. As the individual uses these substances more and more, their life starts to deteriorate. It might take them some time to realize it, but they are now trapped in a downward spiral.
A downward spiral describes a situation where something deteriorates over time. The addiction downward spiral highlights the reality that, once people become addicted, their life will tend to become increasingly intolerable. The longer their addiction lasts, the higher the price they will have to pay. Implied within the idea of the downward spiral is the understanding that the individual will be unable to escape their descent unless they give up the addiction. They may have good days and bad days along the way, but their life will exhibit obvious signs of deterioration over time.
Any addiction does not follow a path but is rather dependent on the individual, their thoughts, feelings, personalities, and life experiences.
Most addicts though will pass through the following stages:
- Experimentation. This can involve peer pressure or just plain curiosity.
- Regular user. If the individual experiments and enjoyed the experience, they may become a regular user. They do not experience many unwanted side effects but rather enjoy drinking alcohol or using drugs. Some individuals can remain in this stage.
- Risky use. If a regular user is not careful, they can slide into the risky use of drugs and alcohol. Decision making may become impaired and many will use drugs and alcohol to begin escaping their reality.
- Psychological dependence. Over time, a psychological dependence will occur. The individual will be unable to cope if they cannot drink alcohol or use drugs throughout the day.
- Addiction. The individual becomes physically dependent and likely have developed a tolerance. If they try to stop, they will experience withdrawals.
The reality of the downward spiral involves skepticism on the part of the addict. Some individuals will claim they have good days as well as bad days in addiction. This is a misunderstanding of what is meant by the downward spiral. It describes something that happens over the course of an addiction. There may well be good days and bad days but the general direction of the life of the addict will be downwards. This deterioration can happen so slowly that the individual is not aware of it. It is only when they compare their life now to how it was a few months or years back that they can more clearly see their descent into addiction. If the individual is experiencing substantial denial, they might not be able to admit to any deterioration in life because of their addiction. They will blame any problems on other factors in their environment and continue to see alcohol and drugs as the only way.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any stage of the downward spiral, help is available now. Please call Cottonwood Tucson to assess how we can help.