The 5 Stages of Drug & Alcohol Addiction

This is a critical stage for family members and treatment facilities because the person is more likely to listen to reason. By avoiding blame, judgment and accusations, it’s possible to guide them to the next stage. Even if your loved one seeks help, you may still need help and support to overcome the effects.

5 stages of alcoholism

Chronic, long-term drinking can contribute to malnutrition by replacing foods needed for essential nutrients and by interfering with absorption, storage, or metabolism of the essential nutrients. This can also lead to anemia, when your red blood cell (RBC) count is lower than normal or there’s a problem with the hemoglobin protein inside those cells. If you take a good look at your body, you may recognize the changes externally and internally. A beer belly is not only a sign of how calorie-filled alcohol is but also that your liver is struggling to do its job. While you may still see yourself succeeding in all areas of your life, you are in denial. You can’t understand why so many bad things are happening to you.

Stage 6: Coma

Many people refer to alcoholism as a “family disease” because it can have a major impact on all members of the family whether they realize it or not. Over time there is a progression of liver disease from hepatitis (inflammation) to fibrosis (hardening) and eventually to scarring of the tissue (cirrhosis). Your obsession with alcohol grows, with most of your thoughts focusing on how to get and consume alcohol. You may have even lost your job or are on the verge of losing it.

What is the 1 3 rule in alcoholism?

The formula was 0-0-1-3, which meant zero drinks if underage, zero drinks if driving, no more than one standard drink per hour, and no more than three drinks per occasion.

If two drinks were enough to calm their anxiety when they first started drinking alcohol, they may find they now need three or four drinks to feel the same way. In order to fully recover from alcoholism, attending a medical detoxing program, individual therapy, and group therapy sessions are vital. Luckily, alcoholism treatment centers offer treatment plans that include each of these important tools.

Take control of your life

Knowledge about these may help someone identify their, or someone else’s problem with alcohol sooner rather than later. This is usually because of peer pressure or fear of missing out. Most young adults don’t go on to develop an alcohol use disorder after experimenting. However, some early-stage drinkers find that alcohol helps to reduce their anxiety, relieve pain or erase bad memories.

5 stages of alcoholism

Alcohol has begun to control the person, and the individual may feel that escape is impossible. Physical dependence persists, and a person must drink to operate normally. Additionally, those dealing with advanced alcoholism may experience severe withdrawal symptoms that include hallucinations and seizures. Valiant’s model initially received quite a bit of support due to its relative simplicity and its early utility in clinical diagnoses. In this stage, those who are addicted to alcohol no longer drink for pleasure and have no control over their alcohol consumption.

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According to America’s Health Rankings, 27.8 percent of New Hampshire citizens between 18 and 44 reported excessive drinking. During the action stage, the person has made significant changes in their lives and is committed to change. This stage of change is characterized by prolonged periods of abstinence and the inclination to turn to professionals for help before or after relapse. According to the CDC, more than one million people die yearly of cirrhosis, including over 40,000 people in the United States. John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

What are the 5 A’s of alcohol?

Clinical guidelines recommend addressing adolescent alcohol use in primary care; the 5 As (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange) may be a useful model for intervention.

Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality. Alcoholism is a dangerous and life-altering disease that can seriously affect your health and well-being. However, it is never too late to seek help and turn things around.

Controlling use to a period where there are obvious issues with control. Instead, the person continues to use the substance and rationalizes their use even though it is resulting in a number of negative ramifications. Now, that doesn’t mean everyone who drinks is abusing alcohol or will become an alcoholic. In fact, most people are able to handle moderate alcohol consumption and have a low risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Binge drinking is a common practice affecting 1 in 6 American adults, resulting in the consumption of 17 billion drinks each year. Binge drinking can be temporary or occur often, sometimes signaling the threat of future heavy drinking or alcohol abuse.

This deficiency can also cause dementia if not treated immediately. The helpline is free, private, and confidential. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. During the mild alcoholism phase, problem drinking may not be interfering with your ability to function at work and home. Even though the hangovers are more challenging to overcome, you still get the job done. Friends and families are not too worried about your consumption.

Early Stage

This stage can last indefinitely, but those with a predisposition to be alcoholics will eventually move on to the next stage. Yes, treatment for end-stage alcoholism may involve addressing any underlying health conditions, medical detoxification, inpatient rehabilitation, and long-term support from a therapist and support group. Typically, people in the first stage of alcoholism do not notice the harmful effects of alcohol because they’re not experiencing withdrawal symptoms. They may use alcohol to relieve stress but also enjoy being high or drunk.

feeling of being drunk

This phase is characterized by defensiveness and endless justification of their behavior. There’s a clear lack of insight into the negative impact of excessive drug or alcohol use and a strong focus on the positive effects they experience from using their drug of choice. Prochaska, DiClemente and Norcross created the stages of change or transtheoretical model in 1983 to help people quit smoking. It was then updated in 1992, when it started being used in clinical settings for a variety of behaviors.

The Stages of Alcoholism

When sober, people with alcohol dependency experience withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, body aches and tremors, sweating, severe agitation, racing heart, and insomnia. In addition, people suffering from alcohol dependence acquire tolerance. As a result, the individual will have to consume a larger quantity of alcohol to experience the desired effect.

  • With education, medication, and support, anyone in any stage of alcoholism can get better.
  • You may become more depressed, more anxious, or start losing sleep.
  • For some people, the end stages of alcoholism are when they hit absolute rock bottom and they simply cannot stop drinking.
  • You might miss work, forget to pick up the kids, become irritable, and notice physical signs of alcohol abuse (facial redness, weight gain or loss, sluggishness, stomach bloating).
  • Other warning signs of this stage include lying about drinking, drinking excessively, and thinking obsessively about drinking.
  • When the individual does not consume alcohol regularly, they may experience withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings.


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