At WakeUp Carolina, our commitment to supporting individuals on the path to recovery is grounded in the understanding that drug use is a multifaceted challenge. Recognizing the phases of drug use is crucial for raising awareness and implementing effective intervention strategies. We recently presented these phases to a group of high school students at a local high school and the topic led to a highly engaged conversation so we’re sharing the information publicly.

In this blog, we aim to shed light on the phases of drug use, offering insights and guidance for those seeking recovery, while highlighting the ever-present dangers associated with the proliferation of lethal substances like fentanyl, xylazine, and carfentanil.

Phase 1: The Experimentation Phase

Our journey begins with the Experimentation Phase, where individuals voluntarily experiment with drugs, often seeking enjoyment or coping with personal challenges. In the current landscape, it’s essential to acknowledge the heightened risks associated with the proliferation of lethal substances. Even within this seemingly innocent phase, individuals are at risk due to the presence of dangerous compounds like fentanyl, xylazine, and carfentanil, which can turn experimentation into a potentially lethal encounter.

(Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse – NIDA)

Phase 2: Recreational Engagement

Moving forward, some individuals transition into Recreational Engagement, where regular drug use becomes more pronounced. The risk of substance use increases and the presence of lethal substances further compounds the dangers associated with this phase. WakeUp Carolina emphasizes the need for heightened awareness during this stage to mitigate potential risks.

(Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – SAMHSA)

Phase 3: Misuse Awareness

The thin line between recreational use and misuse becomes apparent in this phase. Misuse involves continued drug use despite severe consequences, and the presence of lethal substances exacerbates the dangers—WakeUp Carolina advocates for comprehensive education and intervention strategies to address the evolving risks associated with drug misuse.

(Source: World Health Organization – WHO)

Phase 4: Dependence

In the phase of Dependency, the risks associated with lethal substances persist. Withdrawal symptoms and compulsive drug use become more challenging, emphasizing the urgent need for supportive recovery measures.

(Source: American Psychiatric Association – APA)

Phase 5: Substance Use Disorder

The Substance Use Disorder (SUD) phase is a critical juncture marked by the inability to control drug use. Individuals in this phase continue using despite drastic negative consequences, jeopardizing their daily functioning, personal relationships, hobbies, legal standing, and overall health. Attempts to cease drug use often result in dangerous relapses, perpetuating a cycle of destructive behaviors. People may use the drug not for the desired high but to stave off withdrawal symptoms, highlighting the profound impact of drug use on physical and mental well-being.

(Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – DSM-5)

Phase 6: The Path to Recovery

Our perspective extends to the final phase – The Path to Recovery. Even in recovery, individuals may face the ongoing threat of lethal substances, necessitating continued vigilance and support. WakeUp Carolina remains dedicated to empowering individuals to overcome challenges and lead substance-free lives.

(Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – DSM-5)

We underscore the importance of understanding the phases of drug use while recognizing the pervasive risks associated with lethal substances. Our mission is to provide support, resources, and hope in the face of evolving challenges. Integrating awareness of these dangers into our collective efforts can build a community fostering resilience, compassion, and healing. Together, we can WakeUp to a brighter, substance-free future, navigating the journey with heightened awareness and a commitment to safety.

Note: The sources mentioned align with WakeUp Carolina’s commitment to evidence-based practices and addressing the current substance use challenges.

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