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What Are The Stages of Alcoholism?

Alcoholism affects millions of families across the United States and kills more than 95,000 people each year. Alcohol use disorder or alcoholism is a chronic disease characterized by the inability to control drinking due to physical and emotional dependence on alcohol. Alcohol use disorder includes both alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. It is a pattern of drinking that has negative consequences on a person’s life. Alcoholism can affect an individual’s physical health and social and psychological well-being. There are multiple stages of alcoholism, each comes with its own signs and symptoms. The more you get into the stages, the harder it becomes to quit. Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is considered a brain disorder that can be mild, moderate, or severe. It causes loss of control, cravings for alcohol, a negative emotional state, and withdrawal symptoms when not drinking.

The Four Main Stages of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a progressive disease. A famous scientific researcher named E. Morton Jellinek studied the disease extensively and defined it by stages. The four main stages of alcoholism: pre-alcoholism, early-stage alcoholism, middle-stage alcoholism, and end-stage alcoholism. Different signs and symptoms characterize each stage.

Stage #1:  Pre-Alcoholic

Stage one of alcoholism is the pre-alcoholic stage. This stage usually starts with casual or social drinking. As time goes on, the person may start drinking as a way to reduce stress. They start to develop a tolerance for alcohol and will be able to drink more and more and still function. Eventually, they get to the point where it requires large amounts of alcohol for them to become intoxicated. Some of the pre-alcoholic stage signs can include: drinking to cope, unwind or relax, and needing to drink to engage in social situations.

Stage #2: Early-Stage Alcoholism

Stage two of alcoholism is the early-stage alcoholism stage. In this stage, the individual has usually had their first alcohol-related blackout. After that, drinking becomes hard to resist, and the person starts lying about their drinking. Also, during stage two, the individual’s tolerance continues to grow. Some of the signs of early-stage alcoholism are: binge drinking, blacking out, difficulty controlling the amount of alcohol you drink, and trying to cut back unsuccessfully.

Stage #3: Middle Alcoholic Phase

Stage three of alcoholism is the middle alcoholic phase. During this stage of alcoholism, the person’s drinking problem has become obvious. They start missing work and social functions, and they are drinking at inappropriate times. Physical symptoms start appearing, and the person becomes increasingly more irritable. Also, in this stage, the individual has usually made several attempts to stop drinking, but they cannot.

Stage #4: End-Stage Alcoholism

Stage four of alcoholism is the end-stage of the disease. In this stage, the long-term effects of the disease are apparent, and the person develops serious health problems. During end-stage alcoholism, the individual is usually drinking at all times; they have to have alcohol to function or develop withdrawal symptoms. Jobs are lost, and the body starts to disease. Tremors, shaking, and hallucinations occur if the person doesn’t have any alcohol. In end-stage alcoholism, the liver has also usually become damaged. Alcoholism is the fourth leading cause of preventable death in the US. But, if you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, it’s never too late to seek out help. A medically supervised detox and treatment facility can help get you on the road to recovery and get your life back.

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