The 7 Stages that Alcohol Dependence is Characterized By
As much as 6.2 percent of adults in the United States, or 15.1 million people, suffered from alcohol use disorder in 2015, based on a national survey. Many people only become aware of their dependence after it’s solidified in their life. This is in part due to not knowing the initial signs that an addiction is forming. In this article, we will look at the stages that alcohol dependence is characterized by to help you to better recognize the signs before a full-on dependence has formed.
Stage 1: Addiction Risks
Addiction isn’t guaranteed – even when drinking at dangerous levels. Through years of research, it was discovered that there are factors that increase one’s risk of developing an addiction and dependence. Some people form addictions faster because they are more affected by the effects of a drug.
The risk factors that increase the likelihood of someone becoming addicted include:
- Lack of parental involvement
- Drug use at an early age
- Drug availability
- Early aggressive behavior
- Biological factors such as gender, ethnicity, mental disorder, and a family history of addiction
- Peer pressure
Stage 2: First Use
The first use of alcohol won’t usually show any signs of a problem as it hasn’t been long enough for any real changes to occur. At most, the person may experience a few problems such as having a hangover at school or work, which can disrupt their life somewhat.
Stage 3: Heavy Use and Binge Drinking
One of the early alcohol dependence signs is when a high-risk user – based on their addiction risks – starts to partake in heavy alcohol use and binge drink. This patterned use sets the user up for an alcohol dependence. High-risk levels of drinking are when a man drinks 5 or more drinks in a single event, and 4 or more for a woman. When this happens for 5 or more days in a month, then it considered binge drinking.
Stage 4: Problems Begin
The heavy use of alcohol then starts to lead to several problems in the user’s life. They may run into work or school related problems, or there may be problems that start within their family or group of friends.
Stage 5: The Start of a Dependence
Alcohol dependence is characterized by a person’s drinking reaching the stage where the person isn’t deterred by the problems that alcohol is causing in their life. They may begin to crave alcohol and rely on it more regularly to deal with stress and the like.
Stage 6: Moderate Dependence
By this stage, alcohol dependence signs become evident and hard to ignore. Problems seem to multiply in almost every aspect of their life. They may miss work or school more frequently as more and more time is spent on getting drunk and recovering.
Stage 7: Severe Dependence
Alcohol dependence is characterized by a strong desire to drink alcohol, even if it means that everything else in their life suffers. This is a crisis point in the person’s life, and from here everything is bound to get worse. At this stage, the alcohol dependence is characterized by clear signs that everyone – including the addict – can see.
The cycle of alcohol dependence is not easy to break alone; the learned behavior and the physical dependence can make even the strongest of wills falter because it is a disease that affects behavior. Alcoholism treatment often becomes the only real solution. Thankfully, it is highly effective at beating alcohol dependence through the use of medications and evidence-based therapy. Call WhiteSands today at (877) 855-3470 to speak to someone who can help.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.