Progressing Through the 5 Stages of Addiction: Stage II

The second stage of addiction is marked by intense use and cravings.

A craving is an intense desire to use a particular drug and experts consider this the second stage of addiction. This overwhelming urge to use is so powerful, it hijacks normal thinking and behavior and leads to irrational acts – regardless of the consequences. This is where we find ourselves in Stage 2 of the progression through addiction.

It’s a Slippery Slope

I reached Stage 2 after trying to numb my emotions with alcohol. In addition to my parents’ recent divorce, my live-in boyfriend had just unexpectedly called it quits, sending me into an emotional downward spiral. Filled with all-consuming grief and loneliness, I soon developed a routine of drinking immediately after work. That way, I wouldn’t be reminded of how unhappy my life was as I sat, alone, in an empty apartment.

Before I knew it, all of my nights revolved around wine. It got to the point where I felt like I needed it to get through my day. I started making bad decisions, putting myself in dangerous situations and coming into work hungover and unfocused. I counted down each day until the clock hit 5pm, because that’s when I could blissfully slip away from reality.

Thankfully, this daily routine only lasted for a couple of weeks, as my no-care attitude soon handed me a DUI conviction. Causing a near-fatal car accident was the wake-up call I desperately needed and I finally saw the writing on the wall: My tendency toward self-destruction and self-pity was keeping me sick. Alcohol wasn’t curing my problems, it was exacerbating them.

When Reality Comes Knocking…

At the time, I was grateful to have had this ah-ha moment, but others I’d met weren’t quite in the same head space. Once I got to prison, I saw first-hand how many women were still in full-scale addiction mode. They were willing to risk everything to use – their health, their visits with loved ones, their good behavior days. Their need to get high was their first priority, and with drugs being readily available around the compound, there was no rush for them to quit cold turkey.

Feeling like you need to get high is a very real part of developing an addiction. The only way to get rid of these cravings for good is to separate yourself from drugs and alcohol – first through detox, and then through treatment and a program of recovery.

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