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What Are The Stages Of Alcoholism?

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When people talk about alcohol dependence, it generally sounds like an all or nothing problem. You’re either completely suffering from the disease or it doesn’t affect you at all. A closer look at the condition reveals that this isn’t true. In fact, there are three recognizable stages of alcoholism.

First Things First: Defining Alcoholism and Its Phases of Severity

It can be tempting to look at how much someone drinks and point to that as alcohol abuse. However, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines the severity of an alcohol use disorder (AUD) based on a list of specific behaviors. Experts use a directory of 11 questions to discover if (and how intensely) a patient suffers from AUD. If you answer “yes” to two of them based on behaviors noticed in the last 12 months, you may suffer from AUD. Digging deeper, experts believe that your disorder is mild if you only show two to three symptoms. When you present with four to five symptoms, your condition is classified as moderate. Anything above six symptoms qualifies you for a severe AUD classification.

Noticing Stages of Alcoholism in Your Life (or the life of a loved one)

While experts rely on the clinical classification system to diagnose AUD and gauge its severity, the person suffering from alcoholism rarely looks at this type of list. For a more gut-level type of classification, we have found that there are three easy to recognize signs that you or a loved one may be experiencing an alcohol addiction.

  1. Seeking intoxication. At this stage, you’re probably not drinking alcohol every day. In fact, you may be limiting your drinking to weekend days. However, when you do consume alcohol, your goal is to get drunk. It’s unlikely that your personal life suffers greatly from your condition at this stage. However, you may find that your personal relationships are strained during your periods of intoxication.
  2. For stress relief. Over time, your alcohol use may start to include weekdays. At this level, you need a few drinks to relax. In fact, you start looking forward to leaving work so you can get home and have a drink. As the number of your consumption increases, you’re likely to face uncomfortable questions from loved ones. You may start waking up with hangovers and be heading to work or school with them.
  3. Physical consequences. When hangovers become the new normal, your health may start to decline. Weight gain, blood pressure increases, reduced liver functions, and a worsening of already present illnesses may worry you.

Getting Help is Possible at any Stage

Do you or a loved one suffer from one of these stages of alcoholism? You don’t have to let this addiction control your life or the life of your loved one any longer. Caring professionals at Stepping Stone Center for Recovery will work with you to get you on the road to recovery. Call 866-957-4960 today to take the first steps to sobriety.


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