What Are the Stages of Alcoholism?
Alcohol addiction is not an instantaneous disorder, and those struggling with alcohol use disorder often take months or years to reach that point. Alcohol addiction is a progressive condition that can start as casual drinking and advance into dependence with chronic alcohol addiction over time. People with alcoholism rarely stay in the early stages and will most likely move to the more severe stages as a progressive disease. Getting into alcohol addiction treatment programs early on can be the most beneficial.
Below are the stages of alcoholism:
This stage occurs before alcohol abuse is a real problem and drinking has not become compulsive. It can be difficult to notice because it doesn’t look much different from regular social drinking. These drinkers will rely on alcohol as a coping mechanism for various situations. Signs of the pre-alcoholic stage include:
- Rely on alcohol to relax or unwind
- Require a drink to engage in social gatherings
- Use alcohol to deal with uncomfortable emotions or feelings
Early Stages of Alcoholism (Prodromal)
With early-stage alcohol abuse, people begin binge drinking regularly and may even black out occasionally. It is often seen in young adults or adolescents. In this stage, they may not drink daily or even weekly, but they use alcohol frequently and need it for a “good night.”
Signs of early-stage alcoholism:
- Binge drinking often
- “Blacking out” or memory loss due to alcohol
- They cannot control the amount they drink
- Swearing they will cut back or stop but have difficulty doing so
Middle Alcoholic Phase
Middle-stage alcoholism can be more evident to friends and family. Most people will downplay the amount they drink and find ways to explain away their behavior. They may also start experiencing negative consequences at work or school, regularly hungover, and craving more alcohol.
Signs of middle alcoholic phase:
- Drinking when not appropriate, such as at work, while driving, or during childcare
- Needing more to drink to get the same effects as before
- Body changes such as facial redness, shaking, sweating, stomach bloating, and memory lapse
- Alcohol starts to affect you differently, such as getting irritable
End-stage alcoholism results in drinking being the most critical aspect of your life. Alcohol use disorder becomes apparent to others, and physical dependence and addiction have set in. It is essential to find addiction treatment at this stage. Signs of end-stage alcoholism include:
- Severe negative consequences to health, employment, finances, and relationships
- Various health effects such as jaundice, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, and heart failure
- Fluid retention
Learn about addiction withdrawal symptoms here:
When to Seek Treatment for Alcoholism
When frequent uncontrolled alcohol abuse leads to problem drinking, and you cannot stop drinking, it is probably time to get alcoholism treatment. This would be considered around the middle alcoholic phase. You may start experiencing the impacts of frequent or heavy drinking, including feeling more anxious, depressed, or losing sleep. You continue drinking despite it causing various negative consequences in your life, including impacting your health, relationships, and school or work productivity. The most significant sign is when you realize its negative effect on your life, but you cannot cut back or stop drinking on your own, despite wanting to. Getting help from a specialized program can help prevent the progression of alcohol addiction before it becomes a dependence.
Alcohol Rehab at WhiteSands Treatment
WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab offers addiction treatment services to those struggling with alcohol addiction. Our multiple levels of care include inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization program, intensive outpatient program, and much more to meet anyone at any stage of alcoholism. Our dual diagnosis program can help those struggling with alcohol use disorder and a co-occurring disorder such as anxiety disorder, depression, and PTSD and get treatment for both disorders with medication-assisted treatment and various therapies.
Getting alcohol and drug addiction treatment early in the disease can increase your chances of recovery from substance abuse. Please do not hesitate to seek help by calling our recovery center today; you do not need to go through addiction recovery alone. Our treatment programs at WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab are available to give you the support and tools you need to end alcohol addiction.
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.