Stages of Alcoholism: Know the Warning Signs and Symptoms

Design for Change is a full-service addiction recovery center in Lancaster, California that offers tiered levels of treatment for drug addiction and alcoholism. A person who drinks alcohol regularly will eventually build up a tolerance. They find that it takes more and more alcohol to achieve the same effects. For instance, if it usually took two drinks to calm their anxiety, it may take three or four drinks now.

  • The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) has 11 different criteria to consider when diagnosing alcohol use disorder.
  • Recovery from an alcohol use disorder can start in any of the five stages listed above.
  • It also discusses various treatment options for alcohol withdrawal and how you can get help.

Once you have gone through withdrawal, you’ll also need a plan to remain alcohol-free. Start by talking to a healthcare provider about the treatment options for alcohol dependence. Over time there is a progression of liver disease from hepatitis (inflammation) to fibrosis (hardening) and eventually to scarring of the tissue (cirrhosis). Visible signs of alcoholism may become apparent during middle-stage alcoholism.

Middle Alcoholic Stage

Their brain is changing—and without help, there can be serious long-term consequences. Finally, the last stage of alcohol addiction is known formally as end-stage alcoholism. During this stage of alcoholism, you are fully dependent on alcohol and it has started to interfere and take over your day-to-day life.

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In moderate AUD, a person shows signs of four to five of the symptoms of AUD. These programs organize your treatment session based on your schedule. The goal of outpatient treatment is to provide therapy, education, and support in a flexible 5 stages of alcoholism environment. Most will offer aftercare once you complete the inpatient portion of your treatment. If willing, a person with an AUD can get stabilized with recovery. This step aims to transition from drug use to detox to treatment.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

They may not be addicted to alcohol physically yet, but emotional dependence on drinking is there. The person’s physical appearance won’t change, but they may be “hung over” due to excessive alcohol use all the time. They will then explain they were just looking for a good time, which involved drinking. Treatment of alcoholism in this stage is relatively challenging because of the heavy denial that is present and the psychological dependence on alcohol.

  • Prolonged and heavy alcohol consumption permanently changes brain chemistry.
  • This stage of the psychological process can take anywhere between a few months and a few years.
  • In fact, according to a recent study carried out by Alcohol Change UK, approximately 602,391 people across the UK are currently dependent on alcohol, although this number keeps changing.
  • As individuals continually consume alcohol, their liver produces scar tissue instead of new healthy tissue.
  • E. Morton Jellinek, a pioneer in the study of alcohol abuse and dependence, suggested “progressive phases of alcoholism” in 1950, which led to the Jellinek curve, which is still widely used.
  • Research has shown that long-term alcohol misuse can have a lasting impact on the brain, although some areas may recover with abstinence.

Additionally, an individual may feel ill due to their drinking, however, enjoy the effects produced too much to stop. Often times, drinkers at this stage of alcoholism are more likely to experience legal issues because of their alcohol use. The third stage of alcoholism is characterized by a person experiencing problems as a direct result of their drinking. “Problem drinker” is a term commonly used in today’s society to describe a person whose drinking has caused them emotional, physical, social, or financial issues. The need for a medically supervised detox depends, in part, on the length of time of alcohol abuse and usual volume of consumption. In some cases, alcohol withdrawal can present heightened risks and even lead to fatality.

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However, certain food groups also have benefits when it comes to helping with the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and detoxification. In fact, recent research by The Recovery Village has found heavy drinking can increase your risk of cancer by 48% by itself. To others, the person may not look like they have a problem with alcohol. They may appear normal to those around them, other than the perception that they are drinking more. Calls to our general hotline may be answered by private treatment providers.

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Blacking out from drinking too much is a warning sign of this stage, along with lying about drinking, drinking excessively, and thinking obsessively about drinking. For those who need help right away, WebMD Connect to Care specialists are standing by to get you started on the road to recovery today. The DSM is the latest attempt by doctors to understand and diagnose this disorder. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

  • They will then explain they were just looking for a good time, which involved drinking.
  • Typically, the person’s loved ones will begin to express concern about their misuse of alcohol.
  • People are often unaware of the stages of alcoholism until problem drinking develops.
  • After prolonged use of alcohol, your brain adapts to its effects on the body and can develop a physical dependence on it.

Daily drinking can have serious consequences for a person’s health, both in the short- and long-term. Many of the effects of drinking every day can be reversed through early intervention. As alcoholism progresses, the cells in the body become more and more resistant to the short-term effects of alcohol. As a person continues drinking excessively, the cells will continue to adapt. Eventually, the presence of alcohol becomes the norm for the body, and the long-term damage continues. For a person who drinks occasionally, this adaptation is distinct and temporary.

As one’s tolerance levels increase and one becomes dependent on drinking, damage caused to the body also increases in severity. Additionally, any attempt to stop drinking alcohol – especially going cold turkey – may lead to withdrawal symptoms. Of the listed DSM-5 criteria, one is likely to experience at least five to six.

5 stages of alcoholism

Examples of regular alcohol use include drinking during a celebratory event or pairing a glass of wine with a meal. On the other hand, moderate drinkers will drink in order to relieve their negative emotions or “blow off steam”. In order to be in the second stage of alcoholism, an individual will have become a moderate drinker. Often times, people will develop a slight psychological dependence during this stage of alcoholism.