Is There Such a Thing as a Minor Addiction?

Is There Such a Thing as a Minor Addiction?

There are many ways to classify addiction, especially in terms of stage, intensity and seriousness. However, any substance abuse is dangerous, as addiction is a chronic, escalating condition. Denial often causes users and loved ones alike to minimize addiction concerns, but even seemingly minor problems can become grave issues in the future.

How Addiction Forms

Casual or curious drug use leads to drug abuse and dependence, which fuel addiction. There are no clear lines or set amount of time for addiction to form, so experts often measure addiction through stages. Seeing addiction this way makes it easier to identify, because this view combines objective information with subjective circumstances. The subjective elements of drug abuse are often characteristics of addiction, such as denial.

Early Drug Use Habits

Drug addiction begins with drug abuse, which occurs when people use any substance in a quantity, frequency or manner other than prescribed. The Nebraska Psychological Association (NPA) describes “living and abusing” as coming next (“Stages of Addiction,” 2008). Individuals self-diagnose and self-medicate their problems at this stage, but later they experience tolerance, which means they will need more drugs to relieve stress. This also means it will become more difficult to hide their alcohol or drug supplies, because they must grow. Drug users may not perceive any consequences of drug use at this point, but denial exists: users convince themselves that their drug use is harmless, although physical and psychological damage are already occurring, and they are blaming drug use on external circumstances.

Drug Dependence and Addiction

Dependence follows regular substance abuse, as the body adjusts to the presence of drugs in the body. Tolerance, withdrawal symptoms and failed efforts to get clean signal dependence and addiction. The NPA describes this stage as “living to abuse.” An individual’s drug use begins to have a high potential for damaging people’s lives, and they may experience professional, social or personal consequences of use. When use continues despite consequences, it becomes addiction.

Final Stages of Addiction

As addiction escalates, users must take their drugs of choice either to feel normal or to avoid withdrawal symptoms. At this point, the NPA describes individuals as “abusing to live.” Physical health suffers, relationships no longer exist and users become unemployed while they bounce between the hospital and jail. This stage is often perceived as “rock bottom,” and some experts believe addicts must reach this level before they seek help. However, “rock bottom” is different for everyone, so irreversible harm need not occur before treatment can aid recovery.

Even “casual” drug abuse is dangerous, so recovery begins as soon as you reach out for help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to speak with an admissions coordinator about your situation and the treatment resources you need to begin your personalized recovery.