Different stages of alcoholism and recovery from it

Posted on September 16th, 2016 in Alcohol Abuse, Recovery

Different stages of alcoholism and recovery from it

Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a disease that causes an uncontrollable urge in individuals to consume alcohol. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), around 16.3 million Americans aged 18 years or older had an AUD in 2014. In fact, the number of men suffering from AUD (10.6 million) was almost the double of that of women (5.7 million).

An individual does not get addicted to alcohol with its first sip. Developing an addiction takes time. Therefore, if diagnosed on time, the person can be saved from the severe effects it poses on his life. To ensure this, it is essential to understand the different stages of alcoholism.

Disease Model, the most widely accepted theory of alcoholism, identifies five different stages of alcoholism as mentioned below:

  1. The adaptive/early stage: This stage is characterized by an individual’s general experimentation with alcohol. Generally noticed in youngsters, people at this stage develop a high tolerance level and start enjoying alcohol’s stimulating effects. They abuse alcohol until they develop the three major signs of addiction that include craving, tolerance and withdrawal.

Craving is reflected in the individual’s behavior when he starts spending his day looking for the newer ways to get it. Tolerance develops when an individual is able to withstand the alcohol’s side effects, such as a hangover. Withdrawal symptoms imply the feeling of depression when the person is not drinking.

  1. The middle stage: On crossing the first stage, an alcoholic becomes physically dependent on alcohol. While the person used to drink for pleasure during the first stage, he is unable to sustain without alcohol in the middle stage. His increased tolerance leads to uncontrollable cravings for the substance which makes him start drinking at socially unacceptable times and places.

This behavior contributes to poor performance at work and other behavioral changes. Failure to obtain alcohol results in withdrawal symptoms, like nausea, sweating, irritability or tremors. An addict considers alcohol as the only way to control these symptoms.

  1. The late stage: Also known as the deterioration or the final stage, the alcoholic at this stage is aware of the ill effects of alcohol but still continues to drink. Addiction to alcohol is so severe that he tries to fight off the withdrawal symptoms with its help. The excessive intake of alcohol makes him feel sick, depressed and mentally confused. His health begins to deteriorate, leading to a number of diseases, like heart failure, liver problems and gastrointestinal disorders. This overindulgence in alcohol causes relationship issues and decreased social activity.
  1. Treatment: Though it seems extremely difficult for an alcoholic to recover from addiction, consultation with experts and doctors can go long way in helping an individual fight alcoholism. Besides, support from family, friends, employer and society can also aid him in the pursuit of a sober life.
  1. Relapse: Alcoholism is a disease that usually requires a long-term treatment. While undergoing the treatment, an addict exhibits withdrawal symptoms as he initially cuts down the alcohol intake and eventually become clean as part of the detox therapy. An addict is also highly susceptible to relapses as he experiences severe withdrawal symptoms during the treatment. Therefore, it is essential to include relapse prevention activities, follow-up support and education to help alcoholics stay away from alcohol.

Recovery road map

Alcoholism is a trouble at every stage. It is essential to make an alcoholic realize the problems that it can pose to his health and life. Identifying this disease at the early stage is the best way to curb the staggering number of deaths due to alcohol consumption reported in the U.S. every year.

Treatments for alcoholism are available, no matter what stage an individual is at. However, the treatment can vary from individual to individual. While medications might work best for one, a therapy might be a better cure for the other.

If you or someone close to you is looking for help to recover from addiction, the Arizona Alcohol Addiction Treatment Helpline can assist you with the right guidance. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-671-1510 or chat online for instant expert advice on the best alcohol addiction treatment centers Arizona.

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