The Four Stages of Alcoholism: Pre, Early, Middle, and Late

For instance, witnessing parental substance misuse or experiencing family conflict and violence can predispose children to heavy alcohol use. Chronic alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a severe form of alcohol dependence 5 stages of alcoholism characterized by the compulsive consumption of alcohol despite negative consequences. This stage signifies a critical progression from occasional misuse to a pattern of heavy drinking that can lead to profound health complications.

If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact at They will quickly grow tired of making excuses for the addicted person who is missing work, getting arrested, or showing up intoxicated to social functions. Immune system
Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease. Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than moderate drinkers. Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections–even up to 24 hours after getting drunk. Blacking out from drinking too much is a warning sign of this stage, along with lying about drinking, drinking excessively, and thinking obsessively about drinking.

Effects of Long-Term Alcohol Abuse on the Body

By implementing these strategies and seeking ongoing support in recovery, individuals can reduce their risk of relapse and achieve long-term sobriety. It’s important to develop healthy coping mechanisms that can help manage these feelings without turning to drugs or alcohol. Some healthy coping mechanisms include exercise, meditation, therapy, or hobbies. Inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programs may also be appropriate for individuals with more severe cases of alcoholism.

The most severe form of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens (DTs), characterized by altered mental status and severe autonomic hyperactivity that may lead to cardiovascular collapse. Only about 5 percent of patients with alcohol withdrawal progress to DTs, but about 5 percent of these patients die. The affects can range from dementia and intellectual functioning to debilitating conditions that require long-term care, even if a person has been sober for a period of time. Alcoholism was identified in 1956 as an illness by the American Medical Association (AMA). It’s a disease—an altering of the brain that controls a person’s motivation and ability to make healthy choices. Once it takes hold, it can be hard to shake loose—without the right help.

Take Care of Physical and Mental Health

Long-term misuse of alcohol can damage the brain, affecting memory, decision-making, and emotional regulation. Mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, are common among those struggling with chronic AUD. Socially, chronic alcoholism can strain relationships, lead to job loss, and cause financial instability. The stages of alcoholism were first introduced by a researcher,  Elvin Morton Jellinek. Jellinek was a significant figure in the realm of addiction studies, and pioneered research into the progression and phases of alcoholism.

  • Cirrhosis occurs when healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue, making it difficult for the liver to function properly.
  • You’ll live in safe, substance-free housing and have access to professional medical monitoring.
  • One of the most concerning impacts of chronic alcoholism is the development of alcoholic neuropathy, a condition that can cause pain, paresthesias, and ataxia, primarily affecting the lower extremities.
  • Daily drinking can have serious consequences for a person’s health, both in the short- and long-term.

If you show five symptoms then you might be considered to have a mild addiction, and showing signs of six or more might mean that you suffer from a severe addiction [2]. In fact, alcohol abuse is the biggest factor for death and poor health for those between the ages of 15 and 49 years old [1]. Approximately just over 20% of all adults across England and Wales are currently drinking over the recommended guidelines, with 27% of all people who drink admitting to binge drinking [1]. In fact, according to a recent study carried out by Alcohol Change UK, approximately 602,391 people across the UK are currently dependent on alcohol, although this number keeps changing. Looking for addiction treatment in Columbus, Ohio or the surrounding areas? We have inpatient and outpatient facilities nearby and across the country ready to help.

Stage #5: Addiction and alcoholism

Environments characterized by high parental monitoring and stable neighborhoods tend to reduce genetic influences. At the same time, those with more deviant peers and greater alcohol availability may increase the expression of genetic predispositions. Social factors such as peer influence, binge drinking culture, and racial obstacles have also been identified as contributors to the onset of alcohol abuse and dependence. A complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors influences early-stage alcoholism. Research indicates that genetics contribute significantly to the risk of developing alcoholism, with heritability estimates ranging from 50-70%. Specific genes may predispose individuals to alcohol-seeking behaviors, differential responses to alcohol, and variations in the neurobiology of addiction and stress response.

early stages of alcoholism

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