Childrens Place at the Heart of Recovery - A Program of Youth and Family Enrichment Services
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Four Basic Stages of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use in Teens

Initial Use
The user learns he/she can produce euphoric feeling from using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
Drugs of Choice:  Tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, other drugs.
Use:  Weekend or occasional use.
Behavior:  No obvious change in personality.

Regular Use
The user deliberately and actively seeks the "good feelings" produced by the alcohol or other drugs.
Drugs:  Alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, uppers and downers.
Use:  Moves from occasional weekend to every weekend.
Behavior:  Obvious changes in personality.  Lying, displays of anger, may be confrontational with
parents/adults, change in friends.  May lose interest in extracurricular activities.

Daily Use
Achieving the "high" is the sole obsession and preoccupation.
Drugs:  Alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, uppers, downers, LSD, Ecstasy, cocaine, heroin.
Use:  Daily, frequently during the day.  Solitary use. Overdoses occur.
Behavior:  Lying, stealing, problems with the law, job loss, failure at school, loss of original friends.
Depression, suicidal thoughts.

Complete Dependency
Increased levels of alcohol and/or other drugs are needed to start and finish the day.
Drugs:  Alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, uppers, downers, LSD/Ecstasy, cocaine, heroin.
Use:  Constant.  It is addiction.  Compulsive.  The user has no control over use at this point.  He or she
is addicted and requires intensive medical intervention.
Behavior:  Total deterioration of physical health.  Weight loss, chronic cough, and memory loss.
Blackouts, flashbacks, frequent feelings of helplessness.

NaCOA:  "A Family Guide"  Families and Communities Together