What are the Stages of Alcoholism?
Most people can handle moderate alcohol consumption without developing a problem. Many cannot.
For millions of Americans, alcohol use becomes alcohol abuse, developing into a life-threatening addiction. If you suspect you or someone you love has an alcohol problem, you should seek help as soon as possible.
Mental health and addiction professionals have long discussed three stages of alcoholism (some models break these down further, into four, five, and even seven stages). Understanding the path—early, middle and end stage alcoholism—can be helpful in recognizing your need for help, the sooner, the better.
The early stage—
The early stage of alcoholism isn’t all that easy to detect as there may not be any obvious signs of impairment. During this stage, the body is building up a tolerance to alcohol. You may be able to drink more without losing control. But at the same time, this tolerance means you will need to drink more to experience you once felt with lesser amounts. Does this sound familiar? Feel familiar? You may be in the early stage of alcoholism.
The middle stage—
It is during alcoholism’s middle stage that you start to really notice the effects of drinking. You develop a strong craving for a drink. You begin hiding the fact that you’re drinking, or how much you’re drinking from others. You have problems completing tasks at work, meeting responsibilities at home, and your relationships with others start to be impacted. You may even be experiencing alcohol blackouts.
There are a number of physical symptoms you may notice at this stage.
- Enlarged pupils
- Severe headaches
- Clammy skin
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
- Shakiness and tremors
Many alcoholics stop worrying about their physical appearance and neglect personal hygiene during this stage. At this point, it may become obvious to family and friends that you have a problem. Is anyone saying anything to you about your drinking?
The end stage—
The end or late stages of alcoholism are when you’ve lost control, and alcoholism impacts you physically, socially and mentally. You may still be able to hold down a job at this stage, but not for long. Even if you are able to physically get the job done, your focus is on your next drink. Work will suffer.
It’s in this end stage that you will begin experiencing medical problems associated with your drinking. Alcoholism can cause hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, recurring respiratory infections and pancreatitis. In severe cases, alcoholism can even cause heart failure or brain damage.
Do you see yourself or someone you love on this path? Moving though these stages? It is scary, we know. But you don’t have to face this alone. Alcohol doesn’t have to have the last word. We can help.
At Honey Lake Clinic, we believe faith-based treatment, encompassing your spiritual, physical and mental health, will provide you with the long-lasting tools and knowledge you need to break alcohol’s grip.