Is addiction progressive?
For those who suffer from addiction, the power of choice ends after the initial substance use. Explaining addiction to a non-addict may be difficult when non-addicts can sometimes judge a person by their initial actions. Further, willpower can actually push any underlying trauma down, which can make it even more difficult to overcome being an addict. When someone is fighting addiction, it is not enough to rely on willpower. Once they begin using, the addiction takes on a life of its own and is much harder to control.
Those experiencing a severe addiction cannot face life without drugs and alcohol, nor can they recognize problems with their behavior and relationships with others. Alcoholics Anonymous defines the chronic, relapsing brain disorder known as addiction as powerful, cunning, and baffling.
Stage IV is considered late-stage being an addict, where the effects of the disease have spread to all areas of the person’s life. Stage IV is the period that precedes death from the disease. Those who have reached this stage need increasing quantities of drugs just to feel normal. People with Stage IV fit the stereotype and are commonly homeless, in jail, or in an institution. The length of time people can survive in this stage varies, but if the disease is treated, even at this point, the destructive process stops, life expectancy increases, and quality of life improves.
Those who battle drug / alcohol addiction must always be vigilant to ensure they are not sliding back into old behaviors that could jeopardize their sobriety.