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The Three Stages of Alcoholism: Early, Middle, & End-Stage Alcoholism

By the time a person is in end-stage alcoholism, there can be no denying that drinking has taken over their life and damaged their health. Recovery will not be easy at this point, but it will be worth the work. Now is the time to line up support from addiction specialists, mental health professionals, friends and family, and others living with an alcohol use disorder. The all-consuming disease alters the brain and changes a person’s ability to make healthy lifestyle choices. If somebody attempts to stop drinking in this final stage, they will likely experience severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This could include hallucinations or delirium tremens (DTs), which can be fatal.

stages of alcoholism

Or maybe a college student gets stuck early on in their drinking exposure. They might increase their use of alcohol from the occasional drink or two at get-togethers to having more get-togethers for an excuse to drink. Alcohol has long been at the center of celebrations from Monday-night football to your daughter’s wedding or raised somberly to acknowledge the passing of a loved one. 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 information provided by AddictionHelp.com is not a substitute for professional medical advice. View our editorial content guidelines to learn how we create helpful content with integrity and compassion.

Stage 2: Middle Stage Alcoholism

Oftentimes, a combination of family, stress, peers, economic status, and sometimes untreated mental health conditions can all lead to someone developing an AUD. It can be a way to manage stress and mental health for those who don’t have another place to turn. There are stages of alcoholism, and today we’re going to take a deeper look at them. Part of recovery is knowing what to look for so you can start your journey in the first place. Let’s talk more about alcoholism, how it develops, and what you can do to start your recovery journey. If you are ready to take the first step in recovery, contact us today.

We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional. Using alcohol during adolescence (from preteens to mid-20s) may affect brain development, making it more likely that they will be diagnosed with AUD later in life. However, most people with AUD—no matter their age or the severity of their alcohol problems—can benefit from treatment with behavioral health therapies, medications, or both. Medical detoxification and outpatient rehabilitation or intensive outpatient programs may be necessary to help the individual overcome their physical alcohol dependence.

The Consequences of Alcoholism

Alcohol detox and treatment are nearly always necessary at this stage. Unfortunately, for some people, even moderate drinking is not safe. People with a family history of addiction or a mental health disorder may be at a higher risk of alcoholism.

stages of alcoholism

This behavior can be described as experimentation with alcohol going too far, especially if an adolescent or a young adult is displaying the signs of problematic alcohol abuse. In the early phases of alcohol abuse, a person may experiment with different types of drinking and use alcohol in various forms. This could include binge drinking, social drinking, and trying new kinds of alcohol. Because this stage of drinking is unproblematic, individuals are unable to tell that they have an issue with alcohol. People in the end-stage of alcoholism are at high risk for serious and even life-threatening health problems.

Crucial First Steps in Recovery: Overcoming Withdrawal

This is because their drinking hasn’t veered very far from the typical social drinking that most individuals partake in. Every case of alcoholism begins somewhere, and that includes some of the more subtle symptoms described in the early stages of problem drinking. Not all early symptoms of alcoholism are life-threatening but can still be a cause for concern. https://www.excel-medical.com/5-tips-to-consider-when-choosing-a-sober-living-house/ In Texas, 18.7% of adults (consistent with nation-wide results) reported binge drinking in the past 30 days or excessive use weekly. Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks for a female and five or more for a male in two hours. Excessive or chronic use, for purposes of the study, was considered eight or more drinks for women and 15 or more for men.

  • Being aware of the three stages of alcoholism can help many people recognize when their drinking or that of a loved one becomes problematic.
  • The most severe form of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens (DTs), characterized by altered mental status and severe autonomic hyperactivity that may lead to cardiovascular collapse.
  • This is often a defense response when those struggling with alcoholism are unable to accept or confront that they have a problem.

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