What are the 4 levels of addiction?

BY: Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee (MBBS; MD; MIPS; MIAPP)


What are the 4 levels of addiction?

Addiction is a powerful, complex, and all-encompassing disorder. The substances people can get addicted to include nicotine, barbituates, cocaine, alcohol, and heroin. It may be caused by internal behavior or external environmental factors. Addictive behavior can take many forms. The genetic factors can range in severity, from mild to severe, depending on the individual. If left untreated, it can turn into a severe mental health disorder. They may also experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the substance. In this blog post, we will discuss the force levels of addictive substance use disorder.

4 Addiction Levels

Substance use disorder is not to be taken lightly. Illicit drug use can destroy a person’s life. The following are the four levels of addiction:

  • Impaired control
  • Compulsive use
  • Loss of control
  • High-risk use

Now, we will look at all four stages of addiction in detail.

1. Impaired Control

The first level of substance use disorder is impaired control. Impaired control often presents in individuals who are struggling with substance misuse. A tell-tale sign is that their cravings for the substance have become so powerful that they have difficulty restraining themselves from using more than what is considered safe or moderated amounts. When an individual attempts to abstain from use, they may face great levels of psychological distress in behavioral addictions that can lead to decisions that are ultimately detrimental or unhealthy in the long run. It is important to recognize when this behavior pattern has started to manifest and address it appropriately to stop it from continuing.

2. Compulsive Use

The second level of substance use disorder is compulsive use. Compulsive use of a substance is an alarming level of misuse that can disrupt individuals’ lives and lead to profound and harmful consequences. Physical dependence is characterized by a persistent preoccupation with obtaining and using the substance. For example, during alcohol use disorder, compulsive users often experience emotional turbulence when unable to access their drink of choice. This turbulent emotional state and lack of heavy drinking affect physical and mental health, as well as personal, professional, and financial well-being. Unfortunately, these individuals are also more likely to suffer from isolation, chronic disease, anxiety disorder, compulsive behavior, loneliness, family conflict, and other challenges both during and after the addiction. It is essential to recognize the red flags of compulsive use of an addictive drug (be it alcohol use disorder or illegal drugs) before the drugs take further hold to ensure the best possible outcome.

3. Loss of Control

The third level of substance use disorder is loss of control. Individuals have completely lost control over their drug abuse. There are numerous negative consequences due to alcohol addiction or drug dependence. They are unable to control their use and their lives become dominated by the substance. Once individuals have reached this level of substance use, their ability to limit and manage use is severely compromised. This can be both physically and mentally overpowering, leading the person to surrender the daily control of living and rely solely on the substance for control in their life. When this happens, other aspects that were once important like friends and family fade away as the substance becomes the primary focus. The individual may struggle with extreme feelings of guilt and shame as well as an inability to escape from a perpetual cycle of failing at sobriety attempts. Unfortunately, this stage of addiction is difficult as it highlights how severe a situation can become.

4. High-Risk Use

The fourth and final level of substance use disorder is high-risk use. This means that individuals are at high risk for experiencing severe physical, psychological, or social consequences. Substance misuse at a high-risk level carries with it serious adverse consequences. Severe mental illness issues can arise due to the negative toll that addictive substances are taking on a person’s overall mental and physical health, as well as their relationships with those around them. High-risk use should always be taken seriously. Individuals experience severe cravings and may be unable to control their substance use despite significant attempts to do so. They may also experience significant impairment in their daily functioning, including work, school, and relationships. This could cause physical and psychological health problems like heart disease, heavy drinking, alcohol addiction, and mental disorders. When someone is heavily dependent on an addictive substance, they may experience unpleasant symptoms if they try to stop using it. These withdrawal symptoms can range from uncomfortable anxiety and physical pain to more severe issues like seizures.

Those were the four levels or stages of addiction. No matter what stage of addiction an individual is in, seeking professional help as soon as possible while they are ready to make a change is the best way to set them up for success.

Treating Addiction

Addiction is a complex disorder with serious consequences, and it is important to recognize when someone is struggling with substance abuse. If left unchecked, it may lead to severe addictive substance use disorder. This disorder may be caused by behavioral addictions, environmental factors, or even mental health. Co-occurring disorders are the coexistence of substance use disorder and mental illness.

When it comes to treating addiction, the best psychiatrist is key. These professionals specialize in diagnosing and treating individuals who are struggling with addiction, and are often able to provide the support and care that individuals need to overcome their addiction. The best psychiatrist will work with the individual to create a comprehensive treatment plan that takes into account the individual’s needs and goals. They will also provide guidance and support throughout the course of treatment, helping the individual to stay on track and attain long-term sobriety.

Individuals suffering from substance abuse and addiction should consider seeking help from treatment professionals before matters worsen. Mental health care can provide an avenue for individuals to receive needed support concerning changing patterns of usage that lead to these dangerous levels of risk. Taking action now can prevent more significant damage later on. Addiction treatment programs can be tailored to each individual’s needs and offer access to support groups, medical care, counseling, and other resources that are needed to facilitate recovery. 

With the appropriate treatment plan and hard work, recovery from addiction is possible. No matter which level of addiction an individual is at, it is important to get help and medical advice as soon as possible. Addiction is a treatable disorder, and there are a variety of treatment options available to help individuals on the road to recovery. Get in touch with Mental Health Research Centre in Kolkata for more information.

Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee, a distinguished Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the field of mental health. With an academic background that includes an MBBS from Calcutta National Medical College, Kolkata, and an MD from SVS Medical College, Hyderabad, he has garnered recognition as one of Kolkata’s leading mental health professionals. Dr. Mukherjee’s illustrious career has seen him contribute his skills and knowledge to esteemed institutions such as Chittaranjan Hospital, SVS Medical College & Hospital Hyderabad, KPC Medical College, and Iris Hospital. Currently, he serves as a consultant at the Mental Health Research Centre in Kolkata, located within the Marwari Relief Society Hospital, Bara Bazar. His areas of specialization encompass Child and adolescent psychiatry, de-addiction, schizophrenia, depression, and various types of anxiety disorders. Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee’s commitment to the field is underscored by his active participation in numerous international and national seminars on Psychiatry and mental health. His dedication and expertise make him a highly respected figure in the realm of mental health care in Kolkata.