The Stages Of Alcoholism, And How To Know When You Have A Problem

A person at this stage is still said to be a moderate drinker and may only tick three or four of the aforementioned DSM-5 criteria. Since the body becomes used to large amounts of alcohol in such a short amount of time , the body becomes used to it , which results in dependence. Since a person at this stage can no longer control their drinking, they are now at risk of developing alcoholism.

During this stage, individuals will have incorporated their substance abuse into their everyday lives. For some, this might be difficult to recognize, especially if they are “functioning” in their regular use. During this time, you can begin to notice if their regular use is slowly becoming problematic, and if they go through periods of time where they use, they stop using, and then they use again. Summer is often filled with fun activities, such as cookouts, pool parties, and family road trips. The last thing you may be keeping an eye out for are the stages of a drug or alcohol addiction in yourself, a friend, or a loved one. In the contemplative stage, people are aware of the personal consequences of their addiction and spend time thinking about their problem. In this stage, the addicted person may be open to some discussion about the consequences of their addiction; however, they remain ambivalent about making a change.

Stages Of Alcoholism 1: Occasional Overdrinking And Binge Drinking

People with any sort of mental illness such as anxiety or depression often turn to substances such as alcohol to cope with their symptoms. Especially with the younger generations, kids, teenagers, and college students will start experimenting with drinking alcohol as some probably have never drunk before. Therefore, they are curious and start to drink to know what it tastes like, or wonder what it feels like to be drunk. It is purely an experimental phase, which can also lead to other dangerous things if not careful. Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder , doesn’t develop overnight. Knowing the stages of AUD could be key to prevention and treatment. Signs such as drinking at work, while looking after children or when driving are indicators of this stage.

five stages of alcoholism

The effects of alcohol, but their motor skills and judgment are still impaired. They may also blackout after drinking, a common sign of Early Alcoholism. As others begin to realize you may have a drinking problem, you start to realize it too, although you may still be in denial. You begin hiding your drinking habits from friends and family members, spiking your coffee or soda, hiding empty bottles throughout your home, and lying about your whereabouts when you’re out drinking. Alcohol-induced blackouts are also a common part of this stage and may result in large amounts of time lost, such as several hours or even an entire day. During these blackouts, you may not remember where you went, what you did, or who you were with, which could have very harmful physical and mental consequences. The content on is brought to you by American Addiction Centers , a nationwide network of leading substance abuse and behavioral treatment facilities.

Alcohol Addiction Stage 6: Middle Stage Of Dependency

He has strong experience working with adults and adolescents who struggle with substance-abuse disorders. As corporate director, he’s part of a team that develops and oversees clinical programs and services at all of Bradford’s locations. As stage 1 progresses, drinking may be used as a means to reduce stress, whereas before it was only used because it was a social thing to do and it was a bit of fun.

The person can have severe malnutrition, look emaciated, and have a noticeable loss of muscle mass. They even will start skipping meals because they don’t want food filling them up, as it slows the effects of alcohol by delaying its digestion and dispersement into the blood. Socially, they will continue to drink even when their friends stop, or start drinking before anyone else in their group. Some people realize they could have a drinking problem at this stage and take steps to address the problem.

Help For The Stages Of Alcoholism

While the drinking age is 21 in the United States, and around 18 in most countries, including Europe, drinking is a choice people make because it is so easy to, and simply, because they can. Close to 88,000 people in the U.S. die from alcohol-related causes every year.

five stages of alcoholism

Medical treatment may be necessary to detoxify the body of alcohol and to obtain a fresh start. Since many people with alcoholism endure psychological problems, individual or group therapy may help in overcoming addiction. You may become more depressed, more anxious, or start losing sleep. You may start to feel sick from heavy drinking, but enjoy its effects too much to care. Many drinkers at this stage are more likely to drink and drive or experience legal troubles as a result of their drinking. Binge drinking, or drinking a substantial amount of alcohol in a short amount of time, is generally believed to be the first stage of the stages of alcoholism. Binge drinking often occurs when people start experimenting with drinking.

Early Alcoholic Stage

Much of the impact can be reversed if the problem is properly addressed. At this stage, a person’s drinking habits become easily noticeable to friends and loved ones. While some people are skilled at hiding or lying about their drinking habits, if they’ve progressed to this stage, it becomes very difficult to hide. They will start to see the negative consequences of their drinking as it affects their performance at work and/or school, and it takes a toll on their personal relationships. This stage of alcohol use is much easier to spot than the first stage. The person will regularly binge drink and have memory blackouts. They may even joke about how hungover they are and swear to never drink again, only to return to binge drinking a couple of days later.

five stages of alcoholism

Individuals with a psychological dependence to alcohol will continue to drink even though they may see the damage that alcohol is having on their body, relationships, job, etc. The next stage of alcoholism begins when an individual starts to become dependent on alcohol. An individual battling an alcohol use disorder typically goes through a series of five stages. They begin by experimenting with alcohol and then progress to regular drinking, problem drinking, dependence, and finally, addiction. In fact, like all addictions, severe alcohol use disorder is progressive and is usually the result of long-term alcohol abuse.


WebMD does not endorse any product, service or treatment referred to on this page. Have a confidential, completely free conversation with a treatment provider about your financial options. Sober living is an option for anyone who needs more time in a recovery environment before returning home. It is the perfect place to practice the coping skills you learned while in inpatient treatment. Consuming so much alcohol over a long period can lead to alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, chronic pneumonia and bronchitis, cancer, and heart failure. The only things going up in your life are the negative consequences. More legal troubles, financial woes, and more trips to the hospital for injuries or overdoses are examples.

If a person’s drinking has progressed to the point where they are binge drinking on a regular basis and having memory blackouts, they have most likely progressed to the second stage of alcohol use. While these behaviors can simply be a effects of alcohol sign of experimentation, especially in teens and young adults, other times it can be a sign that a person’s alcohol use is progressing in a negative way. Addiction, like many other health conditions, typically doesn’t occur overnight.

Stage Three: Alcohol

Since most people who engage in this stage are just beginning to enjoy drinking, they tend to drink an excessive amount, or what is called binge drinking. In the end-stages of alcoholism there are noticeable health conditions, like jaundice from liver failure. There are also more subtle signs like itchy skin, fluid retention, fatigue, and bleeding. If you know someone who drinks regularly and has these symptoms, call a treatment provider to discuss treatment options.

five stages of alcoholism

They are drinking to avoid the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and alcohol detox. During the second stage of an alcohol use disorder, drinking becomes more frequent. Rather than just drinking at parties or social events, the person starts to drink on a regular basis. They might start to have a few drinks each day and drink excessively on the weekends. Consuming a glass of beer doesn’t 5 stages of alcoholism simply set the stage for a fun night out; it is one of the early symptoms of an eventually devastating disease. While over drinking and binge drinking are not technically defined as alcoholism at this point, this type of drinking is usually a precursor to developing the disease of alcoholism. People who become alcoholic usually start here, with only the occasional indulgence.

Next In Alcohol Abuse Overview Series:

The end-stage alcoholic suffers from a host of physical problems, including severe damage to vital organs such as the liver. Alcohol, in fact, is the cause of more than 50 percent of liver-disease related deaths in this country, and alcohol-related liver disease costs more than $3 billion annually. The mental and physical health of alcoholics are rapidly deteriorating at this stage, and unless they seek alcohol rehab, they may drink themselves to death. But some people who drink face a risk of developing this chronic and progressive disease, which affects roughly 1 in every 8 Americans and contributes to about 88,000 deaths annually. Our community offers unique perspectives on lifelong recovery and substance use prevention, empowering others through stories of strength and courage.

  • A patient prescribed a legal drug may up their dosage due to the powerful feelings of euphoria they feel.
  • Drinkers will begin missing work or other social events because they’re inebriated or hungover.
  • However, many binge drinkers will exceed this amount substantially.
  • Drinking while taking these medications can either increase or decrease their effectiveness, or make them dangerous.

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