The Four Stages of Alcoholism: Pre, Early, Middle, & Late

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Once the initial symptoms of withdrawal have subsided, you may find that you have more energy than you did before you stopped drinking. This is because alcohol is a depressant, so when it’s no longer in your system, your body has more energy to work with. One of the best things about giving up alcohol is that you may find yourself feeling happier overall. This is because alcohol can cause depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. The brain also begins to repair some of the damage and shrinkage you may have experienced while drinking.

As a result, you may have to drink larger quantities to get “buzzed” or drunk. Drinkers leave the experimental stage when their alcohol consumption becomes more frequent. Instead of just drinking at parties once in a while, you may find yourself drinking every weekend. Drinking large amounts of alcohol at one time is dangerous, and can even lead to coma or death.

I’m In Recovery

According to recent studies, nearly 17 million American adults suffer from alcohol use disorder. Because of this, it is important to remain educated on the signs and symptoms of alcoholism. If you or a loved one are suffering from alcoholism, being able to identify an individual’s current stage of alcoholism will aid in finding proper alcohol treatment. Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

five stages of drinking

During the alcohol dependent stage of alcoholism, your mind and body become firmly attached to alcohol. The thought of quitting it might even feel as if you are giving up a good friend. You may feel sad about it or may wonder if you will ever be able to let it go for good. In fact, you may be experiencing a lot of thoughts and feelings during this stage. You may not be sure how to address your struggles with the stages of alcoholism. Find support for yourself and other family members in a rehab family program.

Finding support

Individuals in this stage of alcoholism will never go very long without having a drink in order to avoid severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, it is common for them to abuse other substances in combination with alcohol. Cirrhosis of the liverOur liver filters out harmful substances, cleans our blood, stores energy and aids in digestion. Too much alcohol can be toxic to liver cells, causing dehydration and permanent scarring—which ultimately affects the blood flow. With excessive alcohol consumption, this important organ can’t metabolize Vitamin D, which could develop into a deficiency. Some common signs and symptoms of cirrhosis include fatigue, itchy skin, weight loss, nausea, yellow eyes and skin, abdominal pain and swelling or bruising.

five stages of drinking

Keep in mind that everyone is different and will experience different things when they stop drinking. This is usually when people start to feel their best after giving up alcohol. By this point, most physical withdrawal symptoms should have subsided and you should start to feel less anxious and more positive. Handling the drinking problem depends on the current stage it’s in. During the first stage, where the person drinks only on occasion or sometimes with food, addiction risk is at its minimum.

What Is Alcoholism?

Often times, people will develop a slight psychological dependence during this stage of alcoholism. The primary symptoms of stage three include high tolerance to alcohol, physical symptoms, and more obvious drinking behaviors. The middle stage of alcoholism is when drinking interferes with everyday life. Your doctor may also prescribe medications that can five stages of drinking reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Vivitrol (naltrexone), Campral (acamprosate), and Antabuse (disulfiram) have been FDA-approved to treat alcohol use disorder. If you have been drinking heavily and chronically, it is also a good idea to have your detox medically supervised to minimize your risk of potentially dangerous withdrawal complications.

  • Some people may show every single one of the symptoms of alcoholism.
  • One of the biggest concerns with risky drinkers is when they don’t think they have a problem.
  • The middle stage of alcoholism is when drinking interferes with everyday life.
  • Instead of having alcohol as a means for pleasure, a person may form their life around alcohol, trying to shorten the periods between drinking as much as possible.
  • As you progress through the stages of alcoholism, there is a good chance that you will begin to experience problems.
  • When the individual does not consume alcohol regularly, they may experience withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings.

Excessive drinking can also be used to alleviate stress, which can lead to the next stage. Alcohol addiction happens in several stages, each with its own markers that can be used as early warnings. If someone is unconscious, is showing signs of difficulty breathing or you are concerned about their welfare, it’s important to call emergency services immediately.

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