Faces of Addiction: Phases & Characteristics of Each


Are you or is someone you know struggling with addiction? There are many faces to addiction.

You must know what phase you are in and how to seek help. If you are struggling with addiction, remember it’s a curable disease. Luckily, the four phases of addiction have notable characteristics.

Knowing the phases can save you or a loved one from getting in too deep, or they can signify that you or someone you know needs help.

Here are the phases and characteristics of addiction and how to overcome them.

What are the 4 Phases of Addiction?

There are four phases of addiction: experimentation, regular use, high-risk use, and addiction.

The basics of addiction are categorized from when you first try drugs and alcohol to when it gets progressively worse until your body feels you can’t live without them.

1. Experimentation

Experimentation is the first phase of addiction. It refers to when someone first tries drugs or alcohol. They experiment with these substances, whether it’s societal pressure, curiosity, or another reason, but are not addicted.

Someone in this stage finds it easy to stop using. Experimentation isn’t an addiction but the first step toward it.

2. Regular Use

Regular Use is the second phase. It refers to using the substance on a want-to basis. It is an addiction-forming, but backing out is possible. People in this phase don’t need to get high but choose to despite the consequences.

This phase can be dangerous because it teeters on the edge of high-risk addiction. The increase in use from experimentation can easily slide into consistent, high-risk drug use. There is a fine line between the regular and high-risk stages.

3. High-Risk Use

The third phase is when using it becomes dangerous. It’s a phase where the user is close to abusing the drug and becoming addicted. Doing these drugs is no longer a fun getaway for someone in this phase. If anything, these signs of addiction become clear with high-risk use.

Cravings and negative impacts on the body are present in this phase, such as a decline in mental health and physical condition, but people ignore these signs to continue the abuse.

4. Addiction

The last phase is addiction itself. The only way to escape this phase is by seeking help. In this stage, the body is trained to need the substance despite the legal and health consequences it imposes on the person.

The disease is full-fledged in the last stage. The consequences addiction has on the body, relationships, occupation, and mental health is detrimental, but the person feels they cannot give up the substance.

What are the Characteristics of Each Phase of Addiction?

We know what each phase signifies now, but characteristics clarify the stages of change. If you’re unsure where you or a loved one lies on the scale, these characteristics can inform you.

1. Experimentation

This phase doesn’t have many notable consequences and therefore doesn’t have many key characteristics. It’s often seen as normal from a societal standpoint, especially in young adults, and can be considered a one-time use.

It’s an experiment, however, and if someone with an addictive personality tries a highly addictive substance, this experiment can easily slide into regular use. Even those without addictive personalities can try a substance and see it as something they want to continue using.

2. Regular Use

The regular use phase can lead to enhanced anxiety and guilt because it’s a phase where the user can stop on their own but choose not to. People in this phase commonly make poor decisions while intoxicated but can brush them off because they are not yet addicted.

This stage can be dangerous because of this rationale. People who tell themselves they can stop whenever they want can easily change into convincing themselves they can stop when they can’t.

It can also lead to dangerous decisions where they convince themselves they can drive or that they’re in the right mind to do something they shouldn’t. Someone regularly using may be in denial about their use and can be a high-risk user.

3. High-Risk Use

High-risk use comes into play when the user begins seeking out the substance. They use it more than regularly and ignore all the consequences they may face mentally, physically, and legally. A high-risk user justifies all their actions, including dangerous ones, and plays them off.

This stage ultimately falls into the addiction phase, but the key difference between high-risk use and addiction is control. High-risk users have intense cravings but still have the willpower to turn their life around. It’s difficult this far in the stages to stop, but it’s possible.

4. Addiction

Addiction is a disease because once a person reaches this stage, they cannot stop. The substance is seen as something they need, and without it, their body feels empty and lost without it. Withdrawals are one of the major characteristics alongside the loss of willpower.

It’s no longer a choice for the abuser but a necessity. They will do anything and justify all their actions just to use it again. Someone in this phase needs help.

Six major traits signify someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol.

What are the Six Traits of Addiction?

Six signature personality traits can make someone at high risk for addiction.

  • Impulsivity: Being impulsive in addiction doesn’t refer to the fun, spontaneous side of ourselves but the dangerous one. Health and legal risks are ignored in addiction. Instead, a user does whatever they want.
  • Nonconformity: While using drugs can be a way to conform with peers at a party, addiction is nonconformity in society. People who don’t want to fit in can teach that level of drug abuse and make themselves feel even more alone and on their own.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety is a severe consequence of drug abuse, but a reason most people start using it is to help their anxiety. Anxious people who start with gateway drugs are more susceptible to turning to more intense, dangerous drugs.
  • Low Tolerance for Stress: For some people, stress is insufferable and difficult to handle. Similar to anxiety, these people seek out aid in drugs and alcohol which can turn to addiction.
  • Sensation Seeking: People who strive to feel things in life and experience something new all the time can easily become addicted to a dangerous substance. It’s the need to feel that high feeling over and over again.
  • Blame Shifting: Being an addict tends to make you want to blame anyone else for your mistakes. Facing that blame is a difficult task, and someone who goes into using this personality trait is likely to develop an addiction.

How Do You Face an Addiction?

Seek help. Facing addiction is difficult and impossible to do alone. Whether you reach out to family and friends who can help or help yourself by seeking professional therapy, you can’t face addiction alone.

Just visiting a treatment center is the first step in your addiction rehab. These professionals can help you with the rest, but you need to fight.

Wrapping Up

Addiction is a disease. There are signs within each phase that can warn you of where you’re headed, but once you reach the level of addiction, help is needed. You are not alone.

You can comment with any questions you may have regarding addiction, its phases, and how to seek help.

There are many faces to addiction, but no matter where you’ve found yourself, you can always find your way back.


Leave a Comment

Join our newsletter

Get Connected. Get Help. Join Us

The Curednation newsletter. We’ll send you unbiased and professional insights from our email list.

Plug in your Email


All Resources, to help your Recovery

If you’re ready to take the first step on your road to recovery, we’re here for you. Please book an appointment with us today, and let’s get you back to where you want to be.

View all Resources

Signs Of Marijuana Addiction: Signs to Look Out For

Marijuana addiction or marijuana use disorders affect millions of Americans each year. Although cannabis use in America is quite common, many ...

Can Suboxone Get You High? [Risks & Effects]

Suboxone treatment is highly unlikely to get a person high , especially if it’s given to people treated for ...

Zubsolv vs Suboxone: Which Medication is Right for You?

Zubslov and Suboxone are two types of medication-assisted treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the ...

How to Save Money on Vivitrol Copay

Vivitrol is a medication that is used to help people with substance use disorders such as Opioid dependence and ...

Vivitrol and Weight Loss: Answers to Your Questions

Most people know Vivitrol as the opioid receptor antagonist, which is used to help people with opioid dependence and ...

Your Guide to Identifying the Generic White Suboxone Pill

Suboxone is a drug that’s highly effective in the treatment of opioid use disorder, recommended as part of a ...

Certified, Proven and Private

Curednation: A Place to Recover

If you’re ready to take the first step on your road to recovery, we’re here for you. Please book an appointment with us today, and let’s get you back to where you want to be.

I’ve had a great experience with curednation. I was not sure about it first but I went ahead and started the treatment from them anyways and so far it’s been a dream. The doctors are very nice and helpful.


Dr. Carter is awesome I'm so excited to start my new journey and his team also very awesome and they make every visit welcoming.


Curednation is truly cares about the well-being of their Patients. I am really happy with the treatment I’ve received so far. A big thank you to the doctors.


I came across this service because it is more convenient to get virtual help. I had foot surgery and telemedicine is way better than finding a ride and not feel like an inconvenience to other people.


It was a great experience everybody was kind and very knowledgeable I look forward to our next meeting thank you


I have been doing the sessions for the last few weeks and it has been a life changer experience. I will say you have to do the work to get results. The more you do the better you will feel. They will educate you on ABC Medication, breathing technique and nutrition.