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The Social Stage: Beginning to Lose Control

June 20, 2013

This is a continuation of our blog series: “The Cycle of Addiction.” Read the previous post, which discusses the first stage: The Experimental Stage: The First Step on a Dark Path

During the social stage the substance begins to change different facets of the user’s life. From the way the person feels, to how he thinks and communicates – the social stage is a game changer.

Regular Use

You are discovering something for the first time – and you are excited about it. Drugs and alcohol seem like an easy way to escape the real world for a while. You admit that the landing back into reality is rough, but you’ve convinced yourself that it’s worth it. Another name for the Social Stage, might be the “Regular Use” stage. During this stage of the addiction, drugs and alcohol are used on a regular basis. Though addiction may not be in “full swing” yet, the substances become a comfortable part of life. [ref][/ref] Many people enter this stage without realizing it. They are blinded by the very thing that leads them there. Usually they are able to stop using the substance on their own, and this causes the blindness. Dependency hasn’t developed, and the effects of the drug or drink aren’t controlling. So they tell themselves, “everything is under control.” And even if everything seems to be under control, drugs + alcohol usually don’t equate to controlled use in the long run.

Dangers of the Social Stage

Any form of drugs and alcohol can be dangerous, so this list could be quite extensive. I’m going to focus on the key effects of “regular” substance abuse.

  1. The risk of substances abuse increases: During the social stage, you increase your risk of abusing the substance. Up until now, you’ve been able to control the amount of your intake, but it seems to get harder every day.
  2. Increase in risky behavior: As you become more comfortable with the substance, you begin to do more while under the influence. Unexplained acts of stupidity, driving while intoxicated, and early stages of depression are all signs.
  3. The substance becomes a “Fact of Life”: At this point, the drug or drink is simply part of who you are – part of your identity as a human being.

Once a substance has become a part of who you are, you move on to the "Instrumental Stage".