Three Stages of Alcoholism


Alcoholism or Alcohol Use Disorder is described as an impaired ability to manage or cease alcohol use, even if your life is spiraling out of control. AUD is considered a brain disorder and can be mild, moderate, or severe. 

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are serious problems worldwide. In 2019 alone, 54.9% of people 18 or older reported drinking alcohol within a one-month period. And that is just in the United States. If you are concerned about yourself, or a loved one who has a drinking problem, knowing the signs, symptoms, and stages of AUD can help. At Agape Detox Center we offer comprehensive drug and alcohol detox programs in Port St. Lucie to help you quit drinking.

The Three Stages of Alcoholism

There are three main phases of alcoholism. These include the denial phase, the dependency phase, and the deterioration phase. Each stage presents its own challenges, but they can also provide some insight into how to deal with the problem. 

Stage One: Denial

The most prevalent symptom of stage one in alcoholism is denial. It is also referred to as the pre-alcoholic phase. This is usually when nobody knows how much you are drinking, or how your thoughts are starting to become obsessive about drinking. You may be rationalizing your excessive drinking habits, or even just realizing you may have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. 

This is a good time to ask yourself:

  • Am I drinking to change my emotional state?
  • Am I rushing to get off of work, so I can have a drink?
  • Am I waking up with a headache, feeling sluggish, shaky, and/or nauseous from drinking last night?
  • Am I hiding my habits from my loved ones?

If the answers to these questions are yes, you are in stage 1 of alcoholism. 

Stage Two: Dependence & Loss of Control

Stage two of alcoholism is described as drinking alcohol in excess. This can lead to physical dependence. Physical dependence occurs when the brain starts producing more of certain chemicals after repeated exposure to a substance. With continued use, these substances become necessary to feel normal. 

If you are starting to feel dependent on alcohol, this is a good time to ask yourself some harder questions:

  • Are my thoughts obsessing over when and how I can have my next drink?
  • Have I lost any time, or have blackouts?
  • Am I distancing myself from my friends and family?
  • Am I hiding my drinking from my loved ones?
  • Am I in control of my drinking?

If you answered yes to these questions you are in stage 2 of alcoholism. This may seem scary, but there are ways to change your situation before it gets to stage three. Contacting Agape Detox Center can help you determine the best plan of action. 

Stage Three: Physical and Emotional Deterioration 

Stage three is characterized by physical and emotional deterioration, as well as increased tolerance to alcohol. At this stage, if you reduce your alcohol intake, you will feel withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms could include a shaky body, nausea, headaches, lightheadedness, and/or insomnia. AUD is also often associated with other mental health diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. 

If any of these symptoms resonate with you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you drink every day?
  • Does your body show physical symptoms when you don’t drink?
  • Are you depressed, having anxiety, or withdrawn from your social group?
  • Are you in financial, or legal trouble?
  • Have you tried to quit drinking but can’t do it on your own?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to take steps to become free of your AUD before you get to end-stage alcoholism. 

What Are Common Symptoms of End-Stage Alcoholism?

End-stage alcoholism is the most severe and can be fatal. End-stage alcoholism can cause severe health problems. The characteristics of end-stage alcoholism are damage to the heart, angina, severe malnutrition, liver disease, cancer, and/or chronic pancreatitis. Financial and legal ruin are common, as well as being completely withdrawn from loved ones.  End-stage can take years to get to, but because it is the most dangerous, it is a life or death decision to get help. 

Detox & Treatment for Alcoholism

Alcohol causes physical dependence, which can be fatal if you detox the wrong way. Quitting alcohol “cold turkey” could have devastating consequences. Even trying to taper off a little at a time could cause a health emergency. The only safe way to detox is through a medical detox program for alcohol.  The light at the end of the AUD tunnel is that there is hope.  

Agape Detox Center can provide you with a safe, clean, medical detox program. Once you complete a detox program, an addiction treatment plan will be created to start you on the next phase of recovery from AUD. Start your journey to a healthier version of yourself by contacting us today!

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