Alcoholism: The 4 Main Stages


What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a serious type of alcohol use disorder that makes people dependent on drinking. People with alcoholism usually have a high tolerance, meaning that they need to drink more than other people to feel the same effects. If someone has alcoholism, they will continue abusing alcohol despite knowing and/or experiencing the consequences of drinking heavily.


How To Tell If Someone Is An Alcoholic

There is no way to determine exactly who will become an alcoholic, but there are some risk factors and warning signs to consider. People are more likely to develop alcoholism if they have a family history of addiction, went through trauma in their lives, have a mental health disorder like depression, or started drinking before the age of 15.

Do you think that someone in your life may be an alcoholic? Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Drinking more than intended
  • Wanting to drink so badly it’s distracting
  • Loss of control when drinking alcohol
  • Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering
  • Getting withdrawal symptoms after stopping use

While you can use these signs to help you determine if someone has alcoholism, this disease is anything but black and white. Alcoholism comes in stages, which means that it can gradually develop and the symptoms can get more intense over time.


The Four Stages of Alcoholism

The symptoms of alcoholism range from mild to severe, depending on what stage someone is currently in. The four main stages of alcoholism are:

Pre-alcoholic stage

This stage is perhaps the most difficult to notice because it is the most mild. Those in the pre-alcoholic stage usually drink in social situations and gradually start to use alcohol as a coping mechanism or a method of stress relief. A person’s tolerance to alcohol will usually begin to increase during this first stage.


Early-stage alcoholism

At this stage, alcohol starts to occupy a person’s thoughts. People who are in this stage of alcoholism tend to binge drink, think about drinking often, regularly bring up alcohol in conversation, and have trouble limiting their consumption. You might also notice someone drinking alone or hiding their drinking during this stage.


Middle-stage alcoholism

This is the point where alcohol really starts to interfere with a person’s everyday life. Someone in this stage may make alcohol a priority, drink at work or school, feel hungover often, get irritable when they’re not drinking, and show physical symptoms. These physical symptoms may include sweating, shaking, and weight gain.


End-stage alcoholism

This is the final and most severe stage of alcoholism. People in the last stage are all-consumed by their alcohol use. They will likely drink all day, lose personal relationships, be unable to keep a steady job, and display violent behaviors.


Alcoholism’s Long-Term Risks

If someone reaches the end stage of alcoholism, they are at risk for developing a variety of physical health complications. Long-term risks of alcoholism may include:

  • Cirrhosis
  • Alcohol hepatitis
  • Mouth, throat, or liver cancer
  • Pneumonia
  • Damage to the esophagus
  • Emphysema
  • Heart failure
  • Bronchitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Liver disease
  • Liver failure
  • Brain damage
  • Pancreatitis
  • Poor muscle coordination
  • Brain shrinkage
  • Alcoholic lung disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Alcohol-related breast cancer
  • Stomach lining inflammation
  • Lower ability to filter blood

Even though alcoholism is dangerous, it can be managed and treated. However, this process will take a lot of commitment and determination.


Alcohol Addiction Treatment Near You

If you think that you or a family member is suffering from alcoholism, visit a doctor for a diagnosis right away. Once a medical professional reaches a diagnosis, they can create a unique treatment plan that best suits the needs of the patient. Treatment options may include a combination of counseling, Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT), support groups, and more.

Our team of substance abuse treatment representatives is always available to answer your questions about alcoholism, addiction, and more. Give us a call at 267.209.7312.