The stages of heroin addiction can happen very quickly or the can happen slowly as more of a progression. Either case, these stages often go unbeknownst the addict. It is important that loved ones surrounding the heroin addict can recognize the stages of heroin addiction in order to get the addict help before it's too late.
Stage 1 - Experimentation – The person experiments with a variety of drugs, and through peer pressure or just plain curiosity, the person may sniff or smoke heroin occasionally.
Stage 2 - Initiation – The person is initiated into using heroin intravenously. The first time is often accompanied by sickness that results in vomiting. However, the high is very pleasing to the user and is instantaneous. The drug is injected and the user immediately develops a liking for heroin quickly becoming an addict.
Stage 3 - Commitment – The user is now an addict and starts using the drug on a regular basis and begins associating with other heroin users. The addict now takes heroin anytime, alone or around others. The addict now takes heroin to prevent the negative effects of withdrawal symptoms. Relationships, work, and health begin to suffer. The addict begins to suffer financially after spending tons of money on continual heroin use.
Stage 4 - Dysfunction – The heroin addict’s life now consists of robbing, stealing, and getting high from heroin. The addict can no longer hold any sort of employment and loses contact with family and those that don’t use heroin. The user may experience several episodes of overdoses, coming very close to death, they will often be hospitalized for various reasons, and they are likely to be arrested for crimes committed. Also, many may attempt to seek minimal treatment but will often be unsuccessful and drop out.
Stage 5 - Treatment – If a fatal overdose doesn’t occur, the addict will eventually seek long-term treatment and work extremely hard to kick the heroin addiction.