acquiesce - September 15th, 2020

Are There Different Levels of Drug Addiction?

From occasionally taking drugs to becoming addicted to them, there are many stages and factors which determine how addicted a person will become or if they will at all. These can include mental health problems, past trauma, peer pressure and a range of other external factors.

Nobody wakes up one morning and decides to become an addict. Addictions start out as single acts or behaviours which then become habit. By the time this habit has become a dependency, most people haven’t even realised that they have an addiction. 

For many people, they believe that taking part in an addictive behaviour or substance is something that they have full control over and that they can stop anytime they want, or they think that they aren’t ‘the type’ to become addicted. In reality, anyone can become addicted to something and it isn’t always easy to tell when you have, though some people are more susceptible to drugs than others.

For example, young people who are still developing can find inhibiting impulses and find that making the right decisions is more difficult. They are therefore more likely to develop an addiction as their inability to say no to peer pressure or the offer of drugs may be too strong. 

Whilst someone with an addiction may be obvious to those around them, they themselves may not even realise it. This is because an addiction in its first stage is difficult to spot, particularly in young people who recreationally take drugs regularly.

The Levels of Addiction


Level 1 – Preoccupation

When someone starts to develop strong cravings or urges to take drugs, this is the first sign of an addiction taking over. This person may appear exhausted, depressed, irritable and their behaviour may begin to change. They may even start to prioritise drugs over responsibilities, relationships and things they usually enjoy or appear preoccupied during situations where drugs are unavailable.


Level 2: Binge

When a person continues to use drugs on a more frequent basis, they become tolerant and therefore require more of the substance to feel the same high. The more tolerant a person becomes, the higher amount of drugs they take. This can then lead to overdoses as they attempt to feel the initial high they once felt. 

As they become more tolerant, their urges to take the drugs may increase. This can lead to them prioritising their next hit over much more serious responsibilities and can sometimes lead to behavior which hurts those around them including:

  • Missing or being late to work/school 
  • Continuing to use drugs despite threats of being fired or expelled
  • Borrowing or stealing money from friends or family
  • Lying or being secretive
  • Only attending events where drugs will be available


Level 3: Withdrawal

Due to the way in which the body can become dependent on drugs, when the person addicted attempts to stop taking them, they may experience withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal can be very difficult to cope with and are the reason why many people cannot give up drugs easily or relapse.

These symptoms (depending on the substance) can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Low mood or mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Sweating
  • Aches and pains
  • Shaking
  • Retching
  • Seizures


By the time the user is experiencing withdrawals, it is clear that they have an addiction and their only priority is to continue to use drugs in order to prevent withdrawal symptoms. By this point, they may have alienated friends and family and disregarded important responsibilities such as work or school.


If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, at Acquiesce, we can provide a discreet, highly supported and safe environment within the community to recover in. Without being hidden from the real world, our urban recovery model allows individuals to gain all the tools and experience necessary whilst maintaining a carefully monitored level of autonomy and responsibility over their own recovery. This makes the transitional period from treatment a much smoother process, resulting in a more sustainable recovery journey.

Our programmes are designed to accommodate each individual’s existing commitments and responsibilities including family and work arrangements. Find out more about our available programmes here.

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