Alcoholism is not a one-time stop. It is a progressive condition affecting both the mind and body. It is characterized by loss of control, cravings, and an increasing rate of alcohol intake to produce the craved and desired effect.
Drinking is a favorite pastime for many, but not everyone can become a social drinker. Some people cannot limit their intake to just one or two drinks leading to the risk of alcoholism. An alcoholic typically drinks to escape reality or certain feelings related to their past traumas.
While people have individual experiences that vary in severity, there are generally five stages of alcoholism that an individual should consider alcohol addiction treatment.
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The earliest stage of alcoholism is characterized by general alcohol experimentation: this often occurs in the teen years and early adulthood. Since users are new to alcohol and unaware of their limits, they quickly become binge drinkers. While a binge drinker may not be a daily drinker, they still consume large alcohol amounts at a go.
It is estimated that a male binge drinker consumes five drinks every two hours, while a female binge drinker consumes four.
After an individual starts drinking more frequently, they get to the second stage of alcoholism. At this stage, a drinker typically still only consumes in social settings. The difference is that they will now need to take way more alcohol to get the effect they used to experience on a smaller amount of alcohol when they began.
It is at this point where an individual starts to identify and relate a sense of emotional relief as an alcohol effect.
Once a person gets to the third stage of alcoholism, they now begin to experience problems directly caused by the drinking. Today’s common term is a ‘problem drinker’, referring to a person whose drinking has caused them social, financial, physical, or emotional issues.
Common problems in this stage include decreased social activity levels to their erratic behavior, relationship issues, and difficulty conversing with strangers, among many others.
One of the most common misconceptions about alcohol is that alcohol addiction is the same as an alcohol dependency. However, alcohol dependence can develop before one has gotten to addiction. Alcohol dependence is when an individual does not have control over the alcohol they intake.
Additionally, people with alcohol dependence have an even higher alcohol tolerance. Therefore, they end up taking an even more significant amount of alcohol to achieve and experience their desired effect.
Addiction is the fifth and most troublesome stage in alcoholism, where an individual is physically and mentally hooked. This is the stage where individuals no longer just want a drink; they feel like they need it. At this stage, one cannot go long without a drink; otherwise, they suffer severe withdrawal symptoms.
Alcoholism is a five-stage disease that is treatable through medical attention. Recovery and treatment are possible at any of the alcoholism stages. Fortunately, once an individual receives addiction treatment, they can significantly decrease the risk posed by alcoholism.
While some alcoholism effects may be permanent, addiction treatment has led to full recovery for many. Don’t hesitate to seek out therapy, detox, or rehab for you and your loved one.