Stages of Alcoholism: Breaking Down the 5 Stages & Warning Signs to Look For

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Facing the possibility of alcoholism can be overwhelming, and it feels much easier to act like you’re perfectly fine. Unfortunately, addiction causes more harm in the long term than pleasure in the short term. At this point, drinking is no longer for pleasure – it is a need that one can simply not do without. There are constant cravings for the substance, one finds oneself thinking about drinking at the oddest times, and there is little satisfaction in drinking in small quantities. Alcohol addiction, like many types of substance abuse, does not happen overnight.

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  • Mental obsession with drinking defines the second of the alcoholic stages.
  • The last of the stages of alcoholism is full-blown addiction to alcohol.
  • Resultant negative health effects may also become more prominent.

Binge drinking is something that many younger adults and teens end up partaking in. This is when you consume multiple drinks in a short amount of time and maintain a BAC level of at least .08%. This can happen without much thought when out partying or at a bar, and many young people are unaware that it’s happening to them as it happens. Looking for signs of intoxication is a good indicator, but not everyone that is intoxicated is experiencing alcoholism. If you recognize that you or a loved one are struggling with frequent intoxication, there might be an addiction underneath the actions.

Stage 4: Physical Dependence

As you progress through the stages of alcoholism, there is a good chance that you will begin to experience problems. Or, maybe your partner will break up with you because you would rather party than spend time together. In this stage of alcoholism, you still may not realize that you are becoming dependent on alcohol or have 5 stages of alcoholism already become dependent on it. Even experiencing some problems may not be enough to really see your problems and admit that they exist. Once an individual begins to drink more frequently, they have entered the second stage of alcoholism. During this stage, drinkers are typically still drinking solely in social settings.

5 stages of alcoholism

Extensive alcohol abuse can also lead to anxiety, depression, and other emotional and mental disorders in this age. Excessive consumption can amplify negative feelings when all coping methods come down to alcohol use alone. Most adults will not experience any negative effects from drinking a few glasses of beer or wine or shots, even if they drink this amount of alcohol daily. It is when the volume of alcohol consumed keeps increasing, and alcohol tolerance develops that problems may start to arise. Alcohol abuse can lead to AUD (alcohol use disorder) as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), which lists 11 symptoms connected with the signs and stages of alcoholism.

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You may begin to have doubts about your ability to handle alcohol, and you may begin to feel guilty about drinking to excess. Alcoholism is a chronic and relapsing disease marked by changes in brain structure and function that affect behavior and perception. Heavy alcohol abuse can lead to addiction, and once there, it will likely take a professional rehabilitation program to help ensure long-term recovery. AUD is a medical condition characterized by loss of control over a person’s alcohol use, even though there are negative consequences and health problems when they drink.

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