Finding the strength to support your loved one who has been struggling with an addiction can be difficult to say the least. From the moments of frustration to those of worry and despair, being able to both understand their substance use disorder and remain supportive when their negative decisions become increasingly dangerous or damaging can drive anyone mad.
That’s why looking at their addictive behaviors through the lens of an addiction spectrum can help you better grasp their problematic behaviors.
- Your loved one probably falls on a continuum of substance use, fluctuating up and down.
Like most people struggling with addiction, an increase in their substance use, and the problems associated with their addictive impulses, is rarely instantaneous. No one becomes dependent on a substance the first time they use. Instead, they slowly increase their use and subsequent negative behaviors in a gradual fashion, leading them further down a dangerous path.
Being able to identify where your loved one falls on the spectrum and how you can help them address their addiction before it increases in severity can be an excellent way to help them avoid significant regression before it’s too late.
Addiction as a Spectrum
To understand where your loved one falls on the addiction spectrum, it’s important to know what levels make up the spectrum and how they’re defined. They include:
- Experimental Use
This initial stage is often the result of curiosity about how substance use feels and typically occurs during a person’s teenage years.
An individual may become interested in using a substance for any number of reasons, from curiosity to peer pressure to a simple desire to feel intoxicated for the first time.
At this phase, experimental substance use may include anything from having a few puffs on a joint, having a glass of wine, or ingesting a small amount of other illicit substances.
- Recreational Use
At this stage, social use of a substance is becoming a bit more common. Typically, people who indulge at this level do so to enhance their experiences. While situational use is not usually a problem, the amount and frequency of substance abuse begins to increase in this phase.
What was once a special occasion of drinking transitions into more consistent alcohol consumption and may even become associated with specific events, such as using every weekend, getting drunk before going out, and other social scenarios encouraging substance use.
- Regular Use
When this phase begins, your loved one’s substance use has become a consistent pattern that may be causing minor problems in their life.
Your loved one may go from the occasional drink of alcohol to using it on a weekly basis and, in some cases, this transition to regular use can happen without them realizing a change has occurred.
It’s not uncommon for people to either minimize the existence of a problem or deny the impact their substance use is having on their life at this phase.
- Dependant Use
When your loved one begins to compulsively use a substance and experience the negative effects associated with withdrawals and dependence, they’ve entered a dangerous phase in their addiction.
Repeated and regular abuse of a substance is now having an effect on their health, their relationships, their finances, and their emotional well-being.
At this stage, substance use has become a serious issue, and your loved one may be commonly described as having a severe substance use disorder.
Being able to identify the extent of your loved one’s substance use and how it’s impacting their life is key to defining where they may fall on the addiction spectrum.
That’s why it’s imperative to consult with a clinical professional prior to making any decisions or statements regarding your loved one’s substance use and the most appropriate steps for them to take in addressing their addictive behaviors.
How the Addiction Spectrum Can Help You Better Understand Your Loved One’s Struggle
The concept of an addiction spectrum can be used to assess where your loved one is in terms of their substance use while also providing an invaluable tool to evaluate the type of treatment they may need to address their addictive impulses.
The term itself is used to refer to the stages of substance use and abuse people experience throughout the course of their addiction. For instance, the use of a substance can be only labeled as a substance use disorder if your loved one begins displaying dysfunctional behavior that is directly related to their substance abuse.
Society has viewed substance addiction as a disease for some time, meaning it’s either something that impacts a person’s life naturally or something a person will never experience. But, according to the new theory, addiction is a spectrum that can range from low-risk use (like having a little too much wine on the weekends) to hazardous use (like getting absolutely wasted and making dangerous personal decisions on a consistent basis).
What Kind of Drug Addiction Help Is Best for Your Loved One?
Regardless of where your loved one falls on the addiction spectrum, it’s essential to be able to identify which substances they’re struggling with and the most appropriate level of treatment they need to address their symptoms.
In some cases, they may even need to complete a detox portion of treatment to safely get them clean and prepared for the recovery journey ahead of them.
Consulting with a clinically qualified treatment facility is imperative at this juncture to properly diagnose your loved one before beginning any form of treatment. This ensures their safety as well as the appropriateness of the treatment program they’re transitioning into.
Your Loved One Can Find an Addiction Program in Arizona that Compassionately Guides Them Toward Sobriety at Fountain Hills
At Fountain Hills, we are keenly aware that substance use can slowly negatively impact your loved one’s life if left untreated.
We also know that proactively addressing addictive behaviors is the best way to not only overcome an addiction, but to also establish healthier lifestyle habits to avoid slipping back into addictive patterns down the road.
It’s important to talk with your loved one about their substance use if you’re worried about where they may be on the addiction spectrum. It just may be the encouragement they need to face their addiction and begin the process of recovery.
With an individualized approach, our expert staff strives to learn about the underlying issues that are fueling your loved one’s addiction. We’re here to help ensure your loved one gets the support needed to enjoy a sober lifestyle.