What are the 5 Stages of Alcoholism?

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Drinking in moderation is not a problem for some adults, but it can be for others. When alcohol consumption gets out of control, it can start a person on a destructive path. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 29.5 million people ages 12 and older have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Unfortunately, only a small percentage get the help they need. 

Since alcohol is legal and accessible, many people assume it’s okay to consume. However, no amount of alcohol is considered safe. Recognizing the signs of a potential drinking problem can prevent a serious AUD and the consequences that come with it. Below are the stages of AUD.

Stage 1. Occasional alcohol use and binge drinking 

The first stage of AUD involves experimenting with alcohol. This is commonly seen in young adults as they test their limits. They may also engage in binge drinking, even if they don’t drink regularly. Binge drinking is characterized as having five or more drinks in two hours for men and four or more drinks in two hours for women. 

Stage 2. Increased alcohol consumption 

In this stage, alcohol use becomes more frequent. Instead of just drinking at parties or social events, people start drinking on a regular basis. They often turn to alcohol to relieve stress, combat sadness or loneliness or alleviate boredom. As the drinking continues, the person relies more on it to feel good. 

Stage 3. Problem drinking 

By this stage, signs of AUD start popping up. People may start losing sleep or feeling more anxious or depressed, causing them to turn to alcohol even more. Many people at this stage also start experiencing consequences from their drinking, such as relationship issues, decreased social activity and legal problems. This is also the time when family members start considering alcohol treatment in Easton PA

Stage 4. Alcohol dependence 

AUD has two components: dependence and addiction. It’s possible to be dependent on alcohol but not yet addicted, and this is what this stage involves. At this point, the person has an attachment to alcohol. They have developed a tolerance, which means they need larger amounts to feel intoxicated. And, if they try to quit or cut back, they’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms like nausea, tremors, sweating and insomnia. 

Stage 5. Addiction 

The final stage is alcoholism. By this time, the person doesn’t just drink for pleasure. They have a physical and psychological need to drink, and they will crave this substance until they’re able to drink again. Compulsive behaviors are common, and the person may even be using other substances as well. You’ll notice that most things revolve around obtaining alcohol, using the substance and recovering from it. 

Seeking Help for an Alcohol Use Disorder 

One of the biggest issues with alcohol is that because it’s legal and socially acceptable, many people don’t recognize their problem. They can easily attribute their drinking to having a busy social calendar or a stressful job. But alcohol is a drug, and it can lead to dependence and addiction. 

Furthermore, drinking regularly negatively affects the body. The longer a person drinks, the more likely they are to experience organ damage, brain damage, malnutrition and mental disorders. People with AUD also have a higher risk for heart disease, weakening of the immune system and certain cancers. 

Fortunately, AUD is treatable. Since alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening, it’s recommended to seek medical treatment when detoxing. After detox, the person can move onto a recovery program that explores the underlying reasons for the drinking and healthier ways to cope. 

Alcohol Treatment in Easton PA

Recovery Cove in Easton PA provides outpatient treatment services for mental health and substance use disorders. We treat all severities of AUD using evidence-based and alternative therapies for a well-rounded recovery. We also stay with our clients every step of the way to ensure they make a successful transition to everyday living. To learn more about our services, contact our team today at 484-549-COVE