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Progression

The main reason individuals with a drinking or drug problem end up in a treatment center is due to a crisis of some kind in their lives. Sometimes it is a legal crisis and the courts order treatment instead of jail time but most often it's a personal crisis in the home and relationships have been strained to the breaking point. Many people who come to treatment are confused about how out of control their lives have become and are at a very low point physically and emotionally when they begin the path of recovery.

Professional counselors who work for recovery treatment centers should always reassure clients that they are not alone and the power of alcohol and/or drug dependence is very subtle but consistent. In January's newsletter we discussed the disease concept and this month we discuss the predictable path of progression of abuse that can lead to full blown alcoholism and drug addiction.

One of the first signs that your drinking problem is getting worse is increasing isolation from friends and family who do not drink like you. Few people have the patience and tolerance to hang out with someone who drinks and drugs too much and such relationships will drift away. The tension between the drinker and the people he or she lives with will increase if they do not share the drinking habit. Arguments will become more frequent and distance will build up often leading to separation, divorce or violence in the home.

As the progression of drinking and drugs continue it will start to affect work or school responsibilities. Heavy drinkers and drug users have higher absentee rates leading to falling behind in duties and are more likely to fail and be dismissed.

Losing a job or becoming underemployed contributes to money problems which is another stage of the progression of the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction. Spending too much money on drugs and alcohol itself can be a major strain for many drinkers and users. Some addictions can cost hundreds of dollars a week or even a day and can often lead to illegal activities to just to maintain.

The progression of problems leads to feelings of being a victim of wrongful prosecution and bad luck. Since using alcohol and drugs is used as an escape from problems or seeking pleasure to begin with, the response to increasing problems is always to drink and use even more. Thus we say that the problem always gets worse, never better because those deep in their dependence have no clue how to get out themselves until a crisis happens that takes it out of their hands and forces them to change one way or the other.

Some people who come to treatment may be just in the early stages of dependence and have the opportunity to stop the progression before things get worse. If you or a loved one is suffering from dependence please do not wait until an arrest or someone else gets hurt in an auto accident or an act of violence before getting help. Earlier is always better when it comes to treating alcohol and drug abuse.