Stages of Addiction: Social Use

Not everyone who takes a drink or tries a drug has a substance abuse problem. But for some people, what starts as social use can lead to problem use and then addiction. Some people can have a drink or use another substance and then stop. They don't think about drinking or using again for a while. For some this will never lead to heavier use. For others, it may.

You can take it or leave it

  • You have a drink at a party or a glass of wine with dinner.
  • You tried a street drug once or twice, but never used again.
  • You take medications only when needed and only as directed.
  • You don't think about using or plan the next time you'll use.

Using is still a choice

A social user can choose to say "yes" or "no" at any time. This person is in control of his or her substance use. Think about these statements:

  • I can put down a drink without finishing it.
  • I can enjoy myself at a social event without using.
  • I can go without using or thinking about using.

If this describes you, you're most likely a social user. But ask yourself, can you really take it or leave it? You might try for a few weeks or even a month. If you find it hard or you just can't do it, maybe you need to think about your use again.