Stages of Addiction: Problem Use

As the disease gets worse, a person has less and less control over his or her substance use. At first, alcohol and other drugs can seem to make you feel better or help solve your problems. But that "I'm okay" feeling doesn't last. What does last are the problems that using causes. That's when substance use becomes abuse. The desire to use becomes a craving, and the person needs help to stop using.

You're using more

  • You use more than you used to.
  • You need to use to feel okay.
  • Someone close to you has commented on how much you're using.
  • You have called in sick or been late to work because of a hangover.
  • You've been stopped for driving under the influence.

Use becomes abuse

Using becomes a problem when the substance begins to take control. You need to use more just to get the same feeling. You may start to have money problems or problems with your job or relationships.

Think about these statements:

  • I promise to cut down or quit, but I don't.
  • I'm using more, even when I'm alone.
  • I try to hide my use or feel embarrassed about it.

If this describes you, your use may have become abuse. This kind of substance use can also lead to the next stage: addiction. Changing your use may take time. And you may need help. But you can choose to cut down or stop now.