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Am I an Addict? How Casual Use Can Turn into Addiction

If you find yourself using recreational drugs or alcohol casually or only in social situations, you may have never felt the need to ask yourself “am I an addict?”.

However, have you ever stopped to wonder what the implications of using substances regularly, even if it’s only on weekends, can be?

The unfortunate reality is that casual drug and alcohol use can often lead to addiction without us realising it and for that reason, it’s hard to believe that responsible drug use is possible.

Am I an addict - addiction recovery South Africa

Why do people take drugs?

There are many different reasons why people will start taking drugs and these reasons will vary from person to person.

However, the following are some of the most common reasons why people start using drugs:

  • To rebel against parents or authority
  • To fit in with their peers
  • To experiment
  • To escape from their feelings or stresses
  • To make their social event more enjoyable
  • To ease social anxiety

Am I an Addict? Recreational Drugs Effects & 5 Steps Towards Addiction

When we look at how recreational drug use turns into addiction, we notice a general pattern or series of events that takes place.


This is the point where we try a drug or alcohol for the very first time and is most often due to some level of curiosity.

It’s very seldom that anyone intends on becoming addicted to any form of substance, but the desire to add some excitement to our lives can result in us accepting the offer to take whatever is being offered to us.

On the other hand, we may not be seeking to have fun but rather to numb the pain that we experience from our trauma or to forget about our sadness and we know that some drugs help us forget about it all.

Experimentation is typically characterised by occasional and voluntary use which means we are still able to say no and sometimes go months without using a substance.


It’s at this stage when substance use becomes more frequent. This could be weekly or just a few times a month, but there are likely little to no serious consequences during this stage.

Quitting recreational drug use at this stage is still relatively easy to do.

Risk-Taking Drug Use

This is when drug use begins to affect important areas of our lives like our jobs, performance in school, personal relationships and financial stability.

The risk-taking stage means that the use of drugs is beginning to impair your judgement which results in you partaking in risky behaviour such as driving under the influence or selling drugs so that you can afford to buy your own.

Many people are awakened to the fact that they have a problem with substance misuse during this stage because their behaviour often leads to severe consequences like a loss of job or the ending of a relationship.

There are many people who never progress further than this stage. However, quitting at this time can still be difficult, even though we can see the negative effects substance abuse is having on our lives.


Because of the way that drugs make our brains respond, we eventually depend on them to function normally.

This is also followed closely by tolerance, which means that we no longer feel satisfied with the amount of substance we needed when we first started using.

Now, we need more to feel the results and whether we are physically or psychologically dependent, it’s at this stage that we begin to experience withdrawal symptoms when we go without the substance.


This is when we begin to do whatever it takes to get the substance we need and, without it, we begin to spiral out of control.

Addiction to a substance means that we no longer care about the consequences of our actions and simply getting our fix is all that matters.

It’s at this stage that avoiding withdrawal symptoms has become more important than getting high. Quitting this stage is extremely difficult to do alone.

Social Drugs and Recreational Use - Am I an Addict?

Regardless of the type of substance used, recreational or casual use can quickly become a slippery slope leading towards addiction.

It’s important to avoid experimenting or seeking a crutch to begin with, however, sometimes it can be difficult.

However, there is always enough time during these stages to seek help and stop using drugs or alcohol before we become fully addicted.

Step Away Rehabilitation Centre South Africa

Do you find yourself asking the question "am I an addict?". For more information about our recovery programme as well as how to identify the different stages of addiction, please feel free to contact us.

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