The Path to Addiction: Stages of Alcoholism
Stage #1: Occasional Abuse and Binge Drinking
The first stage of alcoholism is a general experimentation with alcohol. These drinkers may be new to different forms of alcohol and likely to test their limits. This is a common stage seen in young adults. Symptoms of alcoholism.
These drinkers also frequently engage in binge drinking. While they may not drink regularly, they consume exceptionally large amounts of alcohol at one time. Medline Plus classifies binge drinking as:
men who drink five or more alcoholic beverages within two hours
women who drink four or more beverages within two hours
Many binge drinkers exceed this amount. This is especially true for teens who attend drinking parties. You might think binge drinking is safe when you only do it once in a while, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Drinking large amounts of alcohol at one time is dangerous, and can even lead to coma or death. Furthermore, you may become dependent on the feeling and find that these episodes increase in frequency.
5 major symptoms of alcoholism
Stage #2: Increased Drinking
Stage #3: Problem Drinking
Stage #4: Alcohol Dependence
Alcoholism has two facets: dependence and addiction. It’s possible for an alcoholic to be dependent on alcohol, but not yet addicted to drinking.
Dependence forms after the problem drinking stage. At this point, you have an attachment to alcohol that has taken over your regular routine. You’re aware of the adverse effects, but no longer have control over your alcohol consumption.
Alcohol dependence also means that you have developed a tolerance to drinking. As a result, you may have to drink larger quantities to get “buzzed” or drunk. Increased drinking has more damaging effects on the body.
Another characteristic of dependence is withdrawal. As you sober up, you may feel undesirable symptoms like:
nausea (not related to a hangover)
Stage #5: Addiction and Alcoholism
What’s My Outlook?
One of the biggest concerns with risky drinkers is when they don’t think they have a problem. Any stage of alcoholism is problematic. Moderate drinking is the only safe way to consume alcohol, but drinking in general isn’t safe for everyone.
Identifying problems with alcohol early can help prevent dependence and addiction. Medical treatment may be necessary to detox the body of alcohol and to obtain a fresh start. Since many alcoholics endure psychological problems, individual or group therapy may help in overcoming addiction.
The deeper into the stages of alcoholism you enter, the tougher it is to quit drinking. Long-term risks of heavy drinking include:
mental health disorders (including increased risk of suicide)
Talk to your doctor if you think you might have a drinking problem.
Dsm v definition of alcoholism