Addiction can be described as compulsive behavior that individuals indulge in and the consequences that arise due to it. One way to understand addiction is the Jellinek Curve, which is possibly the closest thing to a singular representation of the arc of addiction.
The Jellinek Curve traces the progression of drug and alcohol addiction from the beginning of use to chronic use and onwards to rehab and recovery. There are five phases to the Jellinek Curve, and it is important to keep in mind that they don’t follow a strict timeline as it depends completely on the individual and their personal circumstances. So what are the five phases of addiction and recovery?
The 5 Phases of Addiction Recovery
This is the beginning phase, when an individual has started using drugs or alcohol recreationally or as way for them to cope with the stresses of daily life. Eventually, the individual will start developing a tolerance to the substance, leading them to take more in order to achieve the effects they felt initially. It is during this phase that the individual may start to feel guilty about their drinking or drug use. It is also in this phase that the first signs of dependence start to surface.
The individual is in the second phase when their use of the substance has increased steadily, and is now at a point when they are unable to moderate or stop use. In this phase the individual might have made attempts to control or stop their use of substances, but with no success. The individual starts to distance themselves from their family and friends, and they start justifying their alcohol or drug use. The crucial phase is where the individual also starts engaging in reckless behavior more frequently. They feel a continual sense of remorse and regret, but don’t have the tools to address the problem.
In the chronic phase the individual is likely to experience long periods of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The individual is also probably experiencing physical and psychological health issues. In this chronic phase the individual’s daily routine is driven by their substance use, and they have no motivation to stop. They spend less and less time with their family and friends. Similar to the crucial phase, the individual may have made repeated attempts to stop their substance use, but have failed in those attempts.
This phase occurs when the individual has hit rock bottom or a dead end, and experienced a rare moment of clarity. This is when they realize that they need to rid their life of addiction and make the decision to transform. If the individual can hold on to that desire, they will enter the rehabilitation phase and make the commitment to get professional help for their addiction. They may go through structured and intense treatment programs and get involved with 12 Step groups.
This is the final phase. In recovery, individuals who are newly out of rehab start utilizing the tools and support they received in treatment in order to grow in their sobriety. They re-establish healthy communication with their loved ones, and form new and healthy friendships with sober peers who support their recovery. They re-discover their confidence and self esteem and develop a new mindset where they are more aware of the needs and feelings of others. As the individual grows in their sobriety, they know that the possibilities for them are endless.