There are many ways to approach questions about the stages of alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Looked at one way, you could describe alcoholism as becoming more problematic based on use. An example is a transition from occasional drinking, to moderate drinking, to heavy drinking. From a more broad perspective, which will be the focus here, alcoholism is a disorder that progresses from pre-alcoholism to moderate alcoholism to end-stage alcoholism. At Fresh Start Recovery Center, our programs and mental health therapies are tailored to meet the individual needs of our clients. Reach out to us today at 833.625.0398 to speak with a trained representative about the benefits of our alcohol addiction treatment program.
3 Stages of Alcoholism
In this initial phase, it’s important to ask many questions about behavior and the core reasons why drinking feels like a useful coping mechanism.
A person drinking more than occasionally should consider if drinking is making them feel better or worse. Other questions might include:
- Is my drinking a form of escapism?
- Am I drinking to feel better about my life situation or self-image?
- Am I drinking more to avoid dull pain?
- Is this a method of stress relief?
- Am I drinking to forget my problems?
- Am I drinking due to anxiety or worry?
If your answer to one or more of these questions is “yes,” you should consider the possibility that your drinking is getting out of hand. It may be wise to seek out a mental health counselor and engage in Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to address the core issues leading to your increase in drinking.
2. Early to moderate alcoholism
It might surprise you to learn that even in what is referred to as “early-stage” alcoholism, a person with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) may experience blackouts as a result of binge drinking.
Binge drinking varies from person to person but is generally considered consumption of four or more drinks for women within two hours or five or more drinks for men within two hours—the result of drinking heavily in a short period results in rapid onset drunkenness. A person who enjoys the side effects of drunkenness may have life circumstances, mental health, and emotional health issues that need to be addressed. It could be that these underlying issues are leading to the temptation to engage in problematic drinking.
Once a person has reached even early stages of alcoholism, they may no longer be having a few drinks a week. They may no longer envision having a good time out without the opportunity to drink. The result could be a lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable and increased social isolation. This change in behavior and lifestyle can help fuel the cycle of abuse.
As someone progresses from early signs of alcoholism to moderate signs of AUD, their drinking will be a more prominent activity in their everyday life. A person with a moderate drinking problem is likely to become agitated when confronted with concerns about their drinking. They may have tried unsuccessfully to cut back on their drinking.
In this middle phase, friends and family may feel it’s appropriate to stage an intervention. Signs that a person’s drinking behavior has progressed from early to moderate can include drinking at inappropriate times or a day or inappropriate situations. They may be neglecting family, friends, work, and childcare responsibilities. They may be showing signs of physical health or increased mental health problems. Lack of control is a notable sign that someone’s drinking has gotten out of hand.
3. End-stage alcoholism
At this phase, a person is experiencing the long-term effects of alcoholism. Signs of prolonged alcohol abuse will become prevalent. These include physical decline as well as mental health deterioration. Someone at the end stage of alcoholism has likely made several attempts to cease alcohol abuse or tried to cut back without success.
Those with end-stage alcoholism tend to show signs of paranoia. This is common for those commonly referred to as “functional alcoholics.” A person at this stage of alcoholism may still maintain the public image of functionality even though their drinking has long been out of control and their personal life is full of problems.
Alcoholism is a disease that has severe impacts on a person’s well-being over time, including physical health, mental health, and emotional health. Relationships, finances, employment, hobbies, sources of joy, and general life satisfaction suffer from long-term alcohol abuse.
Without treatment, a person with end-stage alcoholism is likely to continue their problematic behavior to the point where they will have irreversible physical health problems like cirrhosis. Loved ones must attempt to get a person into treatment as soon as possible to avoid the life-threatening results of prolonged alcohol abuse.
Contact Fresh Start to Begin Alcohol Addiction Treatment Today
At Fresh Start Recovery Center, our team of expert medical doctors and mental health counselors take pride in providing individualized care without judgment. Our clients come from all walks of life, and we treat them all with dignity and respect. Alcoholism is a serious disorder that harms the life of both the individual and their loved ones. We encourage you to reach out to us today at 833.625.0398 to speak with a trained representative about the benefits of our alcohol addiction treatment program.