Addiction is not instantaneous. It grows over time. Few people dive into the heavy amount of misuse and abuse that results in drug addiction, though for some people their first time is the beginning of a worsening habit. Most often, drug addiction starts with experimentation. In adolescence, teenage years, or the early twenties, young people begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol. There are many stories of people who begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol in their childhood, due to their environments. Experimentation is an innocent act of curiosity and wanting to explore the effects of mind-altering substances as well as intoxicated states. However, experimentation could have underlying inspirations which could cause a disposition for addiction later on. Characteristics like anxiety, wanting to fit in, changing mood, or changing identity are all contributing factors to addiction which takes people many months of therapy to discover.

Drug and alcohol use is highly normalized in most cultures. Social drinking and drug use is common, even to the point of binging in extreme amounts. Some social cultures value heavy intoxication, getting completely drunk or completely high. Experimentation might a regular routine, moving past the curiosity and pushing the limits of chemical interactions. While some people are able to use substances socially and move on, there are others who continue their social use of drugs and alcohol at home. Drinking beyond social requirements leads to more drinking alone. Bingeing on substances can be social or isolated, but starts to have a chemical effect in the body and the brain, like creating a tolerance or starting to develop a chemical dependency.

Chronic misuse or abuse of drugs and alcohol transcends even the heaviest end of normalized bingeing. Waking up and beginning a daily routine of substance abuse is a sign that addiction is developing. When there is a focus on not just wanting to but needing to be intoxicated more hours of the day than not, an addiction is developing. Neurobiologically, an addiction occurs when the brain begins to rely on the production of dopamine to function, and relies on drugs and/or alcohol to produce the amount of necessary dopamine.


Addiction happens over time, but it can seem to happen so fast. If you believe you or a loved one are at risk for developing an addiction or have already become addicted, there is help available. Hired Power offers recovery services to empower your journey to recovery from beginning all the way through. For information on how we’re bringing recovery home, call us today at 800-910-9299.