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Substance Abuse and

Dependence Continuum

Substance Abuse involves a habitual need (psychological and/or physical) for drugs or alcohol. The process of chemical dependency is a result of continual substance abuse despite negative consequences.

 

The chronology presented here is what we refer to as the "Dependence Continuum". It shows a teen's typical progression of drug use.

STAGE ONE

EXPERIMENTAL DRUG USE

USE

  • Occasional pot-smoking, glue-sniffing. Usually done weekends or during the summer, mostly with friends.

  • Easy to get high because of low tolerance.

  • Thrill of acting grown up and defying parents is part of the high.

 

How It Presents

Little use of "harder" drugs at this stage.

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STAGE TWO

MORE REGULAR USE
 

USE

  • Tolerance increases with increased use. More parties involving kegs (beer) and/or pot, possibly pills, hash or methamphetamine ("ice" or "crank") 

  • Acceptance of the idea the "everyone does it" and wanting to be in on it 

  • Staying out later, even all night

  • The use of alcohol may increase

  • Willing to suffer hangovers

  • Consumption increases and pride in being able to "handle it" increases

  • Use on weeknights begins and skipping school may increase

  • Blackouts may begin and talk with friends about "What did I do last night?" occurs.

  • Solitary use begins, even smoking at home (risk-taking increases)

  • Concentration on fooling parents or teachers when high

  • Preoccupation with use begins 

  • The next high is carefully planned and anticipated.

  • The source of supply is a matter of worry.

  • Use during the day starts 

  • Smoking before school to "make it through the morning"

 

What The World Sees

  • Parents become aware of use 

  • May start a long series of 'groundings' for late hours

  • Drug-using friends often not introduced to parents

  • Lying to parents about the extent of use and use of money for drugs.

  • School activities are dropped especially sports

  • Grades will drop

  • Truancy increases

  • Non-drug-using friends are dropped. Weekend-long parties may start.

STAGE THREE

DAILY PREOCCUPATION

USE

  • The number of times high during the week increases. Amount of money spent for drugs increases (concealing savings withdrawals from parents)

  • "Social use" decreases -- getting loaded rather than just high. Being high becomes normal

  • Buying more and using more -- all activities seem to include drug use.

  • Possible theft to get money to ensure a supply. There may be contact with "bigger" dealers.

  • Solitary use increases. User will isolate self from others using friends.

  • Lying about or hiding the drug supply. Stash may be concealed from friends.

What the world sees

  • Possible dealing or fronting for others

  • Possible court trouble for minor consumption or possession. May be arrested for driving while intoxicated, theft, etc. Probation may result

  • May try to cut down or quit to convince self that there is no problem with drugs.

  • Most straight friends are dropped.

  • Money owed for drugs may increase. More truancy and fights with parents about drug use.

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Stage Four

DEPENDANCE

Also Known As ADDICTION

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