The stages of alcoholism are often not fully understood, which is a significant problem. Too many people don’t realize how subtly addiction begins and the ways that it can impact a person’s health for the worse. Some people drink frequently, but do not binge drink, while others don’t drink frequently, but binge drink every time. Both can be problems, but each can be difficult to identify as a significant drinking problem or alcoholism. As a result, it is critical to understand the stages of alcoholism and to know when to reach out for help through an addiction treatment program.
The Five Stages of Alcoholism
Like all types of addiction, alcohol addiction does not develop overnight without warning. Nobody wakes up one morning and decides to be an alcoholic, and nobody takes one action that suddenly proves that they’re struggling with addiction. The stages of alcoholism are often a slow process, and one that a person may not notice has affected them until years after their first drink. And they may find that they can defend their alcohol abuse in many ways or ignore signs that they’re developing a drinking problem. As a result, it is essential to understand these five stages of alcoholism:
- Experimentation – Social pressures often cause people to try alcohol when they are in their teens – the effects are often alluring enough to cause occasional heavy use and other types of experimentation
- More regular use – After a period of experimental use, many drinkers create a daily pattern of abuse
- Riskier use – A large number of drinkers never progress past daily use – those who do end up taking risks with their drinking, such as driving when drunk, because alcohol is taking over their life
- Dependence – At this point, a person’s body will experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit drinking
- Addiction – After a person’s body has developed a physical need for alcohol, they may form a psychological dependence, as well
The socially-accepted nature of alcohol heightens the frightening nature of the stages of alcoholism — these signs can be difficult to point out, especially to someone who is actively going through them. Sadly, this means that people may not only excuse their addiction and justify continued drinking, but many may not notice symptoms of poor mental health that could leave to more abusive behavior without rehab.
The Impact Mental Health Has on This Process
The stages of alcoholism are often complicated by a person’s mental health and the ways that alcohol interacts with underlying mental health issues. Just a few ways this happens include:
- Justifying the experimentation stage as part of “growing up” or experiencing the world
- Finding that regular use helps manage a person’s anxiety by depressing their body functions
- Getting a testosterone “high” by committing dangerous acts while drinking
- Giving in to depression and believing that alcohol dependency helps manage these problems
- Allowing negative emotions to dig a person deep into the throes of alcoholism
These mental health influences are very damaging to a person’s body and mind and often make overcoming alcoholism a significant challenge. Many cannot face this experience alone but need the help of addiction therapy to manage it. Getting the help of these professionals can be a tough choice, because admitting that you need help can feel like a sign of weakness. However, there’s no way to get better if you don’t seek help.
Help is Available
If you are currently at any point in the stages of alcoholism, please contact us at Atlantic Recovery Center by calling 877.432.0867. Our facility is a small and person-centered care facility that focuses on providing a family-like treatment atmosphere in a positive and uplifting environment. So please verify your insurance to get started.