man on couch holding temples surprised by stages of alcoholism

Stages of Alcoholism

70% of American adults have had a drink in the last year. Because it is so common in American culture, it can be difficult to recognize the stages of alcoholism. In fact, someone may even be undergoing the early or late stages of alcohol use disorder, that is, addiction, without realizing it. However, we all know alcohol abuse exists. Learning and recognizing the different stages of alcoholism can allow people to get the treatment they or their loved ones need. At Promises Five Palms, we understand that alcohol use disorder is subtle and complicated. But once people know what to look for, they can see what they need.

Stages of Alcoholism

Alcohol use disorder or alcoholism is a disease. It rewires an individual’s brain chemistry causing changes in behavior and body function. Whether a person binge-drinks or is high-functioning, alcohol dependency happens in the same way. Knowing the stages of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder can help you or a loved one figure out what kind of treatment is needed to heal. Alcohol use disorder can be broken down into four distinct stages.

Pre-Alcoholic: In this first stage, there is little sign of a problem. Most people are at this stage. They drink casually, occasionally, and rarely to excess. However, at this stage, drinking can increase due to stress as well as due to social pressures. As they do, the chances of developing dependency increase as well. Also, if someone is genetically at risk of alcoholism, even casual drinking can lead to severe issues. Yet this is also where you can best isolate the reasons why you drink. If you drink to make yourself feel better, reduce anxiety, to forget trauma, or relieve physical pain, then you are in the danger zone and need to talk with someone about your underlying issues.

Early, Middle, and Late Stage Alcoholism

Early Alcoholic: For some, this stage is reached after experiencing a blackout for the first time. For others, it entails a growing self-awareness and discomfort with one’s drinking but an inability to cease. During this stage, individuals lie about their drinking, hide alcohol places, and spike non-alcoholic drinks whenever they can. It is at this stage an individual’s tolerance becomes noticeable, and developing tolerance is a warning sign of dependence.

Middle Alcoholic: At this stage, friends and family recognize the symptoms of alcohol use disorder. Due to drinking (i.e., hangovers), you miss work, school, or social occasions. Also, you drink at inappropriate times and situations. As you do so, your brain chemistry is changing, and your body begins to deal with the effect of alcohol dependency. Facial redness, stomach bloating, sluggishness, sudden weight gain, or loss are common signs of the middle stages of alcoholism.

Late Alcoholic: In its late stages, alcohol use disorder is obvious to nearly everyone, and serious health issues have developed. Drinking is nearly constant. Cirrhosis, a liver disease, or alcoholic dementia may occur. Also, any attempts to stop or quit drinking immediately provoke severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Without professional help, an individual at this stage is in danger.

Recovering with Promises Five Palms

However, no matter the stage an individual is in with alcohol use disorder, recovery is possible. Once an individual has successfully gone through medically supervised detox, they can begin treatment. At Promises Five Palms, we provide all those that come to use with the best care available. We understand the stages of alcoholism and how alcohol use disorder is a disease. We want to help you heal and get healthy again. Some of our therapies include:

If you or a loved one is ready to address alcohol abuse, we are here to help. Contact us today at 1.844.675.1022 to learn more about our facilities and programs.

Scroll to Top