There are several stages of drug use. Young people seem to progress more quickly through the stages than do adults.
- Experimental use — typically involves peers, done for recreational use; the user may enjoy defying parents or other authority figures.
- Regular use — the user misses more and more school or work; worries about losing drug source; uses drugs to “fix” negative feeling; begins to stay apart from friends and family; may change peer group to others who are regular users; takes pride in noting; increased tolerance and ability to “handle” the drug.
- Daily preoccupation — the user looses any motivation; the user is indifferent toward school and work; behavior changes become obvious; preoccupation with drug use overrides all prior interests, including relationships; the user engages in secretive behavior; may begin dealing drugs to help support habit; use of other, harder drugs may increase; legal complications may increase.
- Dependence — cannot face daily life without drugs; denial of problem; worsening physical condition; loss of “control” over use; may become suicidal; financial and legal complications worsen; may have severed ties with family members or friends by this time.