Stages of Alcoholism Signs, Symptoms, Treatment

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While each person is unique, there are some typical stages that many struggling with drinking go through. Morton Jellinek in the 1950s, the Jellinek Curve describes and details these, illustrating how alcoholism progresses for most of those with the disease. The chart also shows how alcohol addiction becomes a vicious cycle that continually repeats unless the person attempts to break the cycle by seeking help. It also helps you to avoid the mental and physical health issues that could be coming.

What are the 7 stages of being drunk?

  • Stage 1: Sobriety.
  • Stage 2: Euphoria.
  • Stage 3: Excitement.
  • Stage 4: Confusion.
  • Stage 5: Stupor.
  • Stage 6: Coma.
  • Stage 7: Death.

This is a grueling stage, and many alcoholics are afraid to reach out for help when they reach this stage. They may feel ashamed as they progress through the stages of alcoholism. They may feel as if they are failures and may have no idea what to do.

The Stages of Alcohol Abuse

Medical detoxification and outpatient rehabilitation or intensive outpatient programs may be necessary to help the individual overcome their physical alcohol dependence. The person’s use becomes more frequent and risky, and they may begin to experience negative consequences such as health problems and job losses. If you or a loved 5 stages of alcoholism one are suffering from alcohol addiction, we’re here to help. Contact us today and speak with one of our trusted recovery advisors. Drinkers leave the experimental stage when their alcohol consumption becomes more frequent. Instead of just drinking at parties once in a while, you may find yourself drinking every weekend.

What are the levels of alcoholism?

Despite the variation in specific causes and timeframes from person to person, the disease itself follows a pattern. If you or your loved ones need help to identify the signs of problem drinking, four stages of alcoholism have been identified: pre-alcoholic, early alcoholic, chronic alcoholic, and end-stage alcoholism.

Often times, this occurs during a person’s teen years or early adulthood. Because these drinkers are new to alcohol and are unsure of their own limits, binge drinking is common. While these individuals may not be daily drinkers, they do consume large amounts of alcohol at once.

Some Physical Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

You’ll need to drink more to achieve the same effects you used to feel and often pass out from alcohol. Changes in your body such as facial redness, stomach bloating, shaking, sweating and memory lapses start to affect you. Binge drinking is characterized by the consumption of around four drinks within two hours for women and five drinks within two hours for men. If this is a normal amount for your loved ones, it’s time for them to seriously reconsider their drinking habits.

  • It can cause sleep problems that lead to anxiety or depression.
  • More than two million people are covered by North Carolina Medicaid, the state’s health plan for low-income individuals, as of July 2018….
  • You celebrate good days and cope with sadness or disappointment.
  • If someone increases their drinking significantly, there could be a problem.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) could be forwarded to SAMHSA or a verified treatment provider. Calls are routed based on availability and geographic location. However, you can still overcome your alcohol use disorder with the proper medical treatment and recovery plan. This kind of thinking and staying in denial can lead to further troubles related to an alcohol use disorder.


Meaning, you must drink more alcohol to achieve the same buzz you did when you first started drinking. Treatment is most beneficial for those at the point of middle-stage alcoholism. They haven’t reached a place where their health declined too far and they can make some extreme changes in their lives. Attending alcohol rehab at this stage will be incredibly beneficial. Signs such as drinking at work, while looking after children or when driving are indicators of this stage. You’ve likely become more irritable, and alcohol may start to affect you differently.

  • If you can identify with one or two stages, please understand that alcoholism is a progressive disease.
  • One of the most severe consequences of alcohol withdrawal is called delirium tremens (“the DTs”), which if left untreated, can be fatal.
  • Increased drinking begins when the occasional drink with friends becomes a regular activity for yourself.
  • Someone might remain in this stage due to a lack of information about addictive behaviors.

Consuming so much alcohol over a long period can lead to alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, chronic pneumonia and bronchitis, cancer, and heart failure. But even if you wanted to quit drinking alcohol at this stage, you can’t without the possibility of having potentially fatal seizures or organ failure. It mimics certain chemicals, GABA and glutamate, that the brain naturally produces and are required for proper functioning. The former causes people to relax while the latter is excitatory and makes them more active. Peace Valley Recovery is located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Stage Four: Sever Alcohol Abuse and Dependence

Alcoholism is a progressive disease and without the help from a rehab program, it will only get worse and more complex to treat. It is important to note that alcohol abuse can be treated at any stage. While some people believe that a person must hit rock bottom to be successful in treatment, this is a harmful and dangerous myth. Grasping the stages of alcoholism requires people to understand how alcoholism is diagnosed, as each stage is characterized by a certain number of diagnostic symptoms.

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Complacency or a sense that the work is done once you reach maintenance is often a one-way ticket to recovery relapse. Alcohol and drug abuse can tear families apart and transform loving and successful individuals into desperate, lonely husks of their former selves. Even though the impact is devastating, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Anyone can overcome addiction with the help and guidance of a substance abuse treatment program.

Addiction & Alcoholism

If two drinks were enough to calm their anxiety when they first started drinking alcohol, they may find they now need three or four drinks to feel the same way. Once an individual begins to drink more frequently, they have entered the second stage of alcoholism. During this stage, drinkers are typically still drinking solely in social settings. However, they need to consume more alcohol in order to produce the same effect they experienced in the beginning. Additionally, this stage of alcoholism is when an individual will begin to identify a sense of emotional relief as an effect of alcohol. It may sound backward, but the person may feel that they function better when they are intoxicated.

5 stages of alcoholism

Furthermore, you may become dependent on the feeling you get from drinking and find that these episodes increase in frequency. This is especially true for teens who attend parties where drinking is the primary activity. You might think binge drinking is safe when you only do it occasionally, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The second stage on the curve is marked by symptoms such as blackouts. Other warning signs of this stage include lying about drinking, drinking excessively, and thinking obsessively about drinking. Detoxification is frequently regarded as the initial step in the treatment process.

Medical treatment may be necessary to detoxify the body of alcohol and to obtain a fresh start. Since many people with alcoholism endure psychological problems, individual or group therapy may help in overcoming addiction. The last of the stages of alcoholism is full-blown addiction to alcohol. In this brutal stage, your body has become quite dependent on alcohol. If you try to give it up, your brain lets you know in a hurry that it is not happy.

  • Thousands of people find a solution to their drinking through alcohol rehab each year.
  • The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
  • If you or a loved one are suffering from alcoholism, being able to identify an individual’s current stage of alcoholism will aid in finding proper alcohol treatment.
  • They may appear normal to those around them, other than the perception that they are drinking more.
  • This causes them to begin using alcohol to cope with things in their life that aren’t going well.

This stage of alcoholism starts when people experience an increasing tolerance to alcohol and raise their alcohol intake with greater frequency and quantity. Jellinek viewed alcoholism as a chronic relapsing condition that needed to be treated by health professionals and developed a theory on the progression of alcoholism through various stages. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, Nexus can help. Learn more about alcohol addiction treatment at Nexus or contact us today and speak with a trusted recovery advisor to discuss treatment options. An individual battling an alcohol use disorder (AUD) typically goes through a series of five stages. They begin by experimenting with alcohol and then progress to regular drinking, problem drinking, dependence, and finally, addiction.

Immune system
Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease. Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than moderate drinkers. Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections–even up to 24 hours after getting drunk. Immune system\r\nDrinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease. Alcoholism was identified in 1956 as an illness by the American Medical Association (AMA).

5 stages of alcoholism