Alcoholism and Drug Addiction – Progression of the Disease
Phase 1 — Learning the Mood Swing (Automatic Learning)
- Learns that chemicals can provide a temporary mood swing in the direction of euphoria.
- Learns that chemicals will provide this positive mood swing every time they are used.
- Learns to trust the chemical and its effects.
- Learns to control the degree of the mood swing by regulating the quantity of the chemical intake.
Phase 2 — Seeking the Mood Swing
- Applies what was learned in Phase 1 to his/her social, cultural and life situation.
- Uses the chemical more or less at the appropriate times and places.
- Develops self-imposed rules about the use of the chemical and adheres to them, e.g. “I don’t drink until after five o’clock.”
- May suffer from physical pain (hangover from an occasional overuse of the chemical, but no emotional pain.)
- Continues ability to control the times, quantities, and outcome of all chemical- using experiences.
- Social users remain in this phase. Victims of chemical dependency progress to Phase 3.
Phase 3 — Harmful Dependency
- Begins to experience periodic loss of control or loss of predictability over chemical use. Can no longer predict outcome once chemical use begins.
- These episodes result in behavior that violates the person’s value system and, in turn, creates the first emotional pain that the victim experiences.
- Spontaneous rationalizations arise and hide these feelings from the victim. The loss of insight becomes a growing delusion.
- Negative feelings about self remain unidentified and, therefore, are unresolved. This results in a growing chronic emotional distress.
- Experiences growing anticipation and preoccupation with the use of the chemical.
- Lifestyle begins to change and revolve around the chemical.
- Specific times for chemical use are not established and rigidly held.
- Self-imposed rules that were developed in Phase 2 are now regularly being broken.
- Tolerance to the chemical increases causing the victim to develop more ingenious ways to get, use, and keep the chemical, i.e. sneaking drinks, hiding bottles, etc.
- Projections of self-hatred onto others begin to occur.
- Victim’s whole life is deteriorating as health, spirituality, emotional stability and interpersonal relationships become adversely affected.
Phase 4 — Using to Feel Normal
- Using chemicals to survive rather than to feel euphoric.
- Blackouts occur more frequently.
- Tolerance built in Phase 3 breaks down.
- Physical addiction can occur.
- Paranoid-like thinking is present.
- Geographic escapes are made.
- Loss of desire to live and a complete spiritual bankruptcy
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