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Alcoholism and Drug Addiction – Progression of the Disease

All or some of these in each area may be present:

Phase 1 — Learning the Mood Swing (Automatic Learning)

  1. Learns that chemicals can provide a temporary mood swing in the direction of euphoria.
  2. Learns that chemicals will provide this positive mood swing every time they are used.
  3. Learns to trust the chemical and its effects.
  4. Learns to control the degree of the mood swing by regulating the quantity of the chemical intake.

Phase 2 — Seeking the Mood Swing

  1. Applies what was learned in Phase 1 to his/her social, cultural and life situation.
  2. Uses the chemical more or less at the appropriate times and places.
  3. 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.”
  4. May suffer from physical pain (hangover from an occasional overuse of the chemical, but no emotional pain.)
  5. Continues ability to control the times, quantities, and outcome of all chemical- using experiences.
  6. Social users remain in this phase. Victims of chemical dependency progress to Phase 3.

Phase 3 — Harmful Dependency

  1. Begins to experience periodic loss of control or loss of predictability over chemical use. Can no longer predict outcome once chemical use begins.
  2. These episodes result in behavior that violates the person’s value system and, in turn, creates the first emotional pain that the victim experiences.
  3. Spontaneous rationalizations arise and hide these feelings from the victim. The loss of insight becomes a growing delusion.
  4. Negative feelings about self remain unidentified and, therefore, are unresolved. This results in a growing chronic emotional distress.
  5. Experiences growing anticipation and preoccupation with the use of the chemical.
  6. Lifestyle begins to change and revolve around the chemical.
  7. Specific times for chemical use are not established and rigidly held.
  8. Self-imposed rules that were developed in Phase 2 are now regularly being broken.
  9. 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.
  10. Projections of self-hatred onto others begin to occur.
  11. Victim’s whole life is deteriorating as health, spirituality, emotional stability and interpersonal relationships become adversely affected.

Phase 4 — Using to Feel Normal

  1. Using chemicals to survive rather than to feel euphoric.
  2. Blackouts occur more frequently.
  3. Tolerance built in Phase 3 breaks down.
  4. Physical addiction can occur.
  5. Paranoid-like thinking is present.
  6. Geographic escapes are made.
  7. Loss of desire to live and a complete spiritual bankruptcy

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