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The Typical Stages of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a prevalent issue that affects millions of people worldwide. Some might call it an epidemic; however, the fact remains that countless families have been affected by the harsh consequences alcoholism brings. In this article, we’ll look at the typical stages of alcoholism, as well as what to look out for and what valuable options are available to help overcome it.

Stage 1: Pre-Alcoholism 

The first stage of alcoholism is difficult to spot, and oftentimes, it may not even appear as though any dependency has been formed. What makes the pre-alcoholic stage extremely tricky is the fact that there aren’t any real signs of a problem yet, and it doesn’t even cross the mind that the issue may advance to a more severe stage.

Alcohol is used by many as a crutch, or at least a way to escape for a few hours from the stressors and frustrations that they feel are wearing them down. People in the pre-alcoholic stage may choose to quit drinking altogether or, on the flipside, take a step further in the wrong direction. It’s optimistic to think that most patients in this stage would consider quitting drinking altogether, but the fact is that very few of them seek actual treatment, seeing as the indicators are hard to spot early on.

Signs of pre-alcoholism:

  • Needing alcohol to relax.
  • Using alcohol as a crutch to deal with emotions.
  • Needing alcohol to engage in any social activities.

Stage 2: Early Alcoholism

In the second stage of alcoholism, people often start binge drinking more frequently and may find that they struggle to remember the events that occurred the previous night. This type of behavior is most commonly seen in adolescents or young adults and can serve as a warning of possible progression to more severe alcoholism.

Signs of stage 2 alcoholism are a bit easier to notice than stage 1, where binge drinking typically consists of more than four to five drinks in two hours for women and more than five to six drinks in two hours or less for men. This may seem like normal behavior to the person. Still, the act of drinking excessively to seek relief and a sense of positivity indicates a much deeper and complex underlying issue.

Spotting early alcoholism

Before going into the signs of stage 2 alcoholism, it’s important to note that the person in question may try to laugh the situation off, maybe even saying that they won’t drink as much next time or that it was only a “one-time thing.” However, the odds of them binge drinking again may be considerably high, and it’s crucial to keep an eye on their behavior. Even if their actions don’t seem too alarming yet, regular binge drinking is detrimental to your health and is not a healthy way to cope with emotion or relax.

Signs of early alcoholism:

  • Frequent binge-drinking.
  • Having trouble remembering the night in question (also known as “blacking out”).
  • Making promises of quitting drinking but making no real effort to do so.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s imperative to have a conversation with the person and urge them to seek help before their alcoholism progresses to further stages. The earlier action is taken, the more likely their chances of a full recovery are.

Stage 3: Middle Alcoholism

Middle alcoholism presents itself in a much more public way. This means that an individual’s drinking habits may start to become a problem at work or school, as it may cause them to slack off on tasks, forget vital information or meetings, or even change as a person. This stage is also where a problem starts becoming more evident to friends and family, and a person may start to hide their drinking or even lie about it to avoid confrontation. They may also begin to lie to themselves in an attempt to console any feelings of guilt or consequence. 

What makes this disease so difficult to handle is how it creeps up on a person, little by little, until it’s reached a point where they may feel like there’s little point to going back. Instead of alcohol being an occasional indulgence or social activity, it has now become a staple in the person’s everyday life, and they may feel like, without it, they wouldn’t be able to function correctly.

Signs of middle alcoholism:

  • Placing drinking before family and friends.
  • Separating oneself from the people around them in fear of an intervention.
  • A decline in job success and more frequent problems at work or school.

It’s important to note that even though a person might be in the third stage of alcoholism, treatment in this stage still has a high success rate, as their health may not yet be compromised to an extreme extent. By attending rehab and making some significant changes in lifestyle and mindset, there’s still a chance to break free from the disease.

Stage 4: Late Alcoholism Stage

In the last stage of alcoholism, the effects of long-term binge drinking have taken a toll on a person’s health. They may have lost their job as a result, and the financial implications of unemployment may also have worsened their drinking in an attempt to escape from added stress and frustration. They may also have tried to quit several times, none of them lasting for that long, with drinking becoming an all-day, everyday affair. 

In the last stage, paranoia sets in for a lot of people, and while some still manage to maintain their daily lives, it’s scarce and can cause a mountain of stress and a sense of loneliness.

What to do when someone is in late alcoholism

The fourth stage of alcoholism is the most extreme and dangerous point in the disease, and every aspect of a person’s life (health, relationships, career, and finances) usually has borne the brunt of it. Seeking treatment in this stage is highly imperative, and it could mean the difference between life and death.

If you or someone you know is dealing with alcoholism in any of its stages, it’s vital to seek help. There are a wide variety of options to choose from, as well as many professionals at Jackson House Recovery Centers that can help you turn things around and pursue wellness. You can learn more about our alcohol recovery programs by contacting us today, and remember: The most challenging step is making the choice to change. After that, you already have an advantage in the battle.

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