What Are The Stages of Alcoholism

While most people drink alcohol moderately, there are those who eventually become helplessly dependent and develop a drinking habit. And it’s easy to understand why because alcohol is extremely addictive. Obviously, overindulging in your choice of poison can lead to addiction. But alcoholism doesn’t happen overnight. It stems from chronic alcohol abuse. As alcoholism is a progressive disorder, understanding the different stages of alcoholism can help you or your loved one in seeking treatment before the issue turns into a downward spiral.

5 Stages of Alcoholism

Stage 1: Experimentation

Curiosity is a tricky thing. But YOLO, right? So it all starts with the first sip, first shot, first glass, first bottle, often seen in teens and young adults. At this point, you may or may not like the taste of alcohol or how it makes you feel initially. However, peer pressure ensues and or stress plagues and you find yourself further dabbling into the alcohol world. This then could lead to social drinking. While you can usually say no to liquor and seldom get intoxicated, occasional drinking may progress to binge drinking. If you think binging and exceeding your limit is safe when you only do it occasionally, you’re wrong. Drinking huge amounts of alcohol—even irregularly—is incredibly dangerous. It can cause coma or even death. If not controlled, you can be hooked on the sensation you get from booze and notice that these incidents now occur more and more. This may gradually escalate to the next following stages of alcoholism.

Stage 2: Increased Tolerance

Drinkers graduate from the experimental phase to increased tolerance phase when they now turn to alcohol more regularly. Instead of drinking during special occasions only, you may find yourself getting hammered every weekend. However, you will notice that the “buzzed” effects that you long for are decreasing each time. This happens when your body gets used to the presence of alcohol in your system. Hence, you up the number of times you drink and the amount of alcoholic drinks itself to achieve your desired effect. At this stage, you may find the urge of drinking irresistible if alcohol is accessible because it makes you feel “good.” Other reasons of increased drinking include: to relieve stress, because of boredom, to beat sadness and an excuse to hang out with friends. As you continue to increase your tolerance, you become more dependent on alcohol and the odds of developing it into other stages of alcoholism becomes greater.

Stage 3: Problem Drinking

This phase is characterized by the negative effects of alcohol abuse on an individual’s life. Problems arise, such as relationship issues, driving under the influence, work difficulties, sleep difficulties, and depression or anxiety when not drinking. Some people may also resort to downing alcohol at inappropriate (and risky) times, such as while looking after kids, at work or while driving. You may even start to feel ill from excessive drinking, but you enjoy its effects too much to quit or care. At this stage you may also become defensive when your family and friends start to ask or intervene about your drinking problem.

Stage 4: Alcohol Dependence

As the stages of alcoholism progresses to the fourth level, an individual now becomes dependent on alcohol. Your world revolves so much on getting drunk. Getting intoxicated is your #1 priority—even over loved ones. And if you don’t drink, you suffer from withdrawal signs like sweating, headache, nausea that’s not linked to a hangover, tremors, anxiety, vomiting, palpitations and sleep issues. People who reach this phase is deeply alcohol dependent that they may no longer feel the need to conceal their drinking habit. Physical signs also appear at this stage, such as flushed face, weight gain or loss, and bloating.

Stages of alcoholism

Stage 5: Addiction

Out of all stages of alcoholism, this is the most difficult one, as total control over consumption is virtually non-existent. You now become physically and psychologically addicted to alcohol. You never go long without getting inebriated. However, this time, you drink not because you enjoy it but more of because you need it. Individuals who are addicted to alcohol not only crave the substance but are also miserable until they reach for the bottle and start drowning in alcohol again. This period is also deemed as a crisis phase because aside from doing dangerous acts like DUI, serious health issues are highly likely to develop as well. Persistent alcohol abuse can result to liver damage, heart diseases, kidney disorder, malnutrition, cancer, brain damage and mental illnesses like depression, paranoia and dementia. The risk of suicide is also high at this stage because of chronic depression and anxiety that alcohol addicts suffer from.

Alcohol Dependence an advance stage

Alcoholic tendencies can be treated at any stage. However, the sooner you recognize the need for assistance, the faster and more successful your recovery will be. So if you think vodka, beer, cocktails, whiskey or whatever your preferred alcoholic drink, is starting to become your BFF or bae, it’s time to smash that bottle or glass and ditch the habit.

And we understand it’s not easy to let go of your constant companion that is the alcohol. But that’s exactly what we are for. BLVD knows that alcohol addiction affects different people differently and no two alcoholics will undergo the same exact symptoms or stages of alcoholism. That’s why we offer various treatment programs that will help you get clean and get your life right back on track.

Just call us 24/7 at (888) 534-4699 and our professional addiction experts will be more than happy to help you decide the right treatment program for you.

stages of alcoholism infographic