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Not everyone who uses drugs or alcohol becomes addicted, but millions of people worldwide have. Addiction is a progressive disease. It can change the chemical composition of your brain. Experts on substance abuse and on the brain agree that addiction moves through three stages: escalation, binge, dependence, or what are referred to as 'the levels of addiction'. If you need help in any of these areas please visit the best de-addiction centre in India!

Phase or level 1: Binge or Intoxication

People who have a problem with substance abuse, alcohol, or drugs are often motivated by the reward system in their brain. When they engage in abusing substances, an individual’s brain releases dopamine. This is a chemical that can make you feel very good and helps motivate the user to keep abusing substances so as to feel good. People who are exposed to this chemical will likely develop a tolerance for using it, which can lead them to seek out treatment for addiction and might want to find help soon, such as through a rehab centre in India.

The binge/intoxication stage of the addiction cycle is the stage at which an individual consumes the substance of choice. This stage heavily involves the basal ganglia and its two key brain sub-regions, the nucleus accumbens and the dorsal striatum. In this stage, substances affect the brain in several ways. [1]

Abuse of alcohol or drugs changes the brain. The more the abuse, the greater the chances of becoming addicted. During the early stages of drug or alcohol addiction, one is likely to develop triggers that lead to binge drinking or drug use. One’s brain may start firing off dopamine in anticipation of drugs or alcohol. Dopamine causes pleasurable feelings and this can make for powerful cravings for drugs or alcohol. Triggers may include:

Being around people whom you had addictive behaviors towards; Being in places that were associated with your addiction (like clubs or bars, for example); Having thoughts similar to those you experienced before becoming addicted.

In this first level of addiction, you start seeing warning signs like:

Drinking or using drugs without realizing it; a desire for increasingly more of the substance to achieve the same high; experiencing problems in relationships and other areas of life as a result; unsuccessful attempts to stop using substances.

Certain situations make some people more susceptible to this stage of addiction. Drug rehabs in India find that people with mental health issues are also at greater risk for substance abuse. If you have conditions like depression or anxiety, you may like how drugs or alcohol ease your symptoms. The problem is substance abuse only provides instant relief and does not resolve the underlying cause of psychiatric symptoms. This can actually make the symptoms worse in the long run. When we talk about dual diagnosis, it involves having both a drug or alcohol abuse condition and a bipolar disorder or another mental health condition, and these two types of treatment requirements require careful handling which makes drug rehab programs complicated. But just because inpatient residential treatment might be difficult doesn't mean recovery is impossible! This makes us want to emphasize choosing the best rehabilitation centres in India for your treatment.

Level 2: Withdrawal / Negative affect

The fun stops when one is no longer having a good time. With substance abuse, there's no more pleasure in its use. Now, one is just using drugs and or alcohol to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Establishing chemical dependency has been achieved. The brain nervous system is severely inflamed and rejected from the absence of harmful substances like drugs and or excessive alcohol consumption. Substances are consumed to artificially induce sensations of well-being through artificial neurotransmitter effects akin to large dopamine releases that compete against endogenous brain neurochemistry. In effect due to chronic use or abuse, the drug/alcohol addicted individual has neurotoxically exceeded frontal cortical inhibition sufficiently as to paradoxically produce deleterious psychological side-effects, namely depression and anxiety type symptoms.

This stage of addiction involves a decrease in the function of the brain reward systems and activation of stress neurotransmitters, such as CRF and dynorphin, in the extended amygdala. Together, these phenomena provide a powerful neurochemical basis for the negative emotional state associated with withdrawal. The drive to alleviate these negative feelings negatively reinforces alcohol or drug use and drives compulsive substance taking. [2]

In the second stage of addiction, physical dependence and psychological dependency are what drive people forward. Depending on what substance one is addicted to, withdrawal symptoms come in various levels of discomfort to severe. Withdrawal pushes users into the third form of addiction which is a compulsion as it takes over the user's life.

Level 3: Compulsion / anticipation / pre-occupation

“Rock bottoms”, or the lowest point of losing everything that matters in your life, occur in the third stage of addiction. Your brain by this point has become rewired to think it needs drugs or alcohol to survive. It instructs you to get more no matter what it takes to achieve that goal. Brain regions affected by this rewiring include those involved in motivation, decision-making, restraint, learning, and planning.

Everything in your life becomes a secondary focus to drugs and/or alcohol. You may be prone to compulsive lies or to stealing money or other things you will use to get high. Your family, friends, and loved ones have no idea who you are anymore - and neither do you. During the third stage of addiction, you begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms from your substance use including experiencing a mix of both physical and mental pain such as cravings for more drugs or alcohol so strong that it's becoming increasingly difficult for the addict to function.

This stage of the addiction cycle is characterized by a disruption of executive function caused by the compromised prefrontal cortex. The activity of the neurotransmitter glutamate is increased, which drives substance use habits associated with craving, and disrupts how dopamine influences the frontal cortex. The over-activation of the Go system in the prefrontal cortex promotes habit-like substance seeking, and the under-activation of the Stop system in the prefrontal cortex promotes impulsive and compulsive substance seeking. [3]

The three stages are linked to and feed on each other, but they also involve different brain regions, circuits (or networks), and neurotransmitters and result in specific kinds of changes in the brain. A person may go through this three-stage cycle over the course of weeks or months or progress through it several times in a day. There may be variations in how people progress through the cycle and the intensity with which they experience each of the stages. Nonetheless, the addiction cycle tends to intensify over time, leading to greater physical and psychological harm. [4]

Which phase of Addiction Is Best for Treatment at a rehab Centre in India?

There truly is no time like the present to get help for your drug and alcohol addiction at one of the best de-addiction centres in India. Going through any stage of addiction is enough of a reason to seek the necessary treatment through various rehabs in India and other remedies. Unfortunately, it’s true that when you become physically dependent on drugs or alcohol, this can affect your thinking and decision-making abilities so getting help sooner rather than later can be very helpful in terms of preventing further damage to both your mental as well as physical health. In general, long-term sobriety can do wonders for helping reverse some of the negative side effects of chemical dependency but it’s also wise to speak with an expert at one of the best alcohol rehabs in India today.

It's never too soon or too late for a drug rehabilitation program at a top rehabilitation centre in India. Any stage of addiction is a good one for treatment. A person's brain is susceptible to changes at each stage of chemical dependency and sobriety can help repair the physical, psychological and behavioral damage in the early or late stages of addiction. In general, people who have maintained sobriety over a long period of time often report improvements in body organs and systems including their heart and respiratory rates as well as their likelihood of more serious complications that might otherwise develop when untreated like diabetes, hypertension & even arthritis!

Quitting drugs can change the brain’s balance of neurotransmitters. It takes time for the brain to return to its natural production of feel-good neurotransmitters without the help of a substance like alcohol or hard drugs like opioids. Sometimes you might need support from medications and healthy lifestyle habits, like seeing a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy: these services provided by top luxury rehabs in India offer some of the best hope for recovery.

Effective addiction treatment at the best rehabilitation centres in India addresses all of the elements within an addict's life by providing programs that allow you to examine why you abuse drugs or alcohol; psychiatric care when needed to help manage dual diagnosis issues whether it's substance abuse and mental health issues or behavioral changes in response to experiences or interactions with people or environments; peer support from support groups and group counseling; family involvement when appropriate to improve relationships and deal with problems caused by addiction; aftercare for a time afterward which includes further addiction recovery programs at a rehab centre in India.

Addiction is a complex disease, but you can beat it. Millions of people are living fulfilling lives in recovery. Sobriety involves hard work and discipline but is well worth it in the end!

  1. 1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); Office of the Surgeon General (US). Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health [Internet]. Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services; 2016 Nov. CHAPTER 2, THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF SUBSTANCE USE, MISUSE, AND ADDICTION. Available from:-
  2. 2. Koob GF, Le Moal M. Plasticity of reward neurocircuitry and the ‘dark side’ of drug addiction. Nature Neuroscience. 2005;8(11):1442–1444.
  3. 3. Kalivas PW. The glutamate homeostasis hypothesis of addiction. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 2009;10(8):561–572.
  4. 4. Koob GF, Le Moal M. Drug abuse: Hedonic homeostatic dysregulation. Science. 1997;278(5335):52–58.

AUTHOR- Dr. Niharika Singh (MBBS, MD Psychiatry, MIPS)

Dr. Niharika Singh received her MBBS degree from Kurukshetra University, following which she went on to complete MD Psychiatry from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bangalore. During her residency program, she pursued her thesis on psychosocial factors and personality profiles of early and late-onset alcohol dependence syndrome. With a view to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field of mental health, she then continued to train regularly with premier institutes such as Harvard Medical School - McLean Hospital (USA) in Mind-Body Medicine, Beck Institute (USA) in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, NIMHANS (Bangalore) in Addiction Psychiatry, Behaviour Medicine, Clinical Neurophysiology and Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation and has completed Fellowship in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation from Duke University (USA). After post-graduation, her goal has been to inform the public about addiction issues. Her mission is to help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

REVIEWED BY- Gauri Kapoor (Addiction Recovery Counselor)

Gauri Kapoor embarked on her journey into sobriety 7 years ago, which led her to her current career path as a Certified Professional Addiction Recovery Coach in Delhi, India. She works closely with facilities that provide residential addiction treatment such as 12-Step programs and other nonprofits to help individuals deal with their addiction.

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