What are the Stages of Alcoholism

What are the Stages of Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is an unrelenting physical and mental disease that over time and continued use of alcohol gets worse and worse and may eventually lead to death if left untreated. It’s an illness that can happen to anyone regardless of what age you are, what colour your skin is or whether you are male or female. They key characteristic of alcoholism is the powerless need to drink more and more alcohol despite seeing the damage its causing to the addict and the people around them. This disease can be broken up into four stages, each which explains how someone becomes addicted to alcohol. What are the stages of alcoholism? Continue reading below and we’ll you’ll find everything you need to know.

Stage One: Adjustment

Drinking becomes a problem when an individual uses it to escape from the real world. When this happens, using alcohol becomes a habit and a method to forget about things such as issues at work or at home. The most notable part of this stage of alcoholism is that the individual begins to develop a tolerance for alcohol, which means that an alcoholic will have to drink more to achieve feelings that were once felt by using smaller amounts. During this period, the cells inside the body of the alcoholic will begin to adjust to the increased amount of alcohol; however there are few or no outward physical signs that can be show signs of an addiction forming.

Stage Two: Addiction

When someone drinks excessive amounts of alcohol over a long period of time, they may become completely dependent on to it. Also, their body has now adjusted to the high levels of alcohol being consumed. When alcohol isn’t readily available, the addict will feel agitated and uncomfortable until they manage to get hold of a drink. During this stage, the individual will begin to include alcohol in their daily routines and may even begin drinking earlier than usual. According to an article on the website of the American Psychological Association (APA), it was found that once an alcoholic consumes one drink, they may not be able to stop.

The physical signs of alcoholism will also become present as loved ones of the addict will begin to notice that they have a drinking problem. In some cases, the family members and friends of the alcoholic may even lie or cover up the issue because of concern and embarrassment. The alcoholic may also begin to stay away from people and when someone approaches them about their excessive drinking, the addict may deny having a problem or will blame others for the position they are currently in. Some of the physical effects that may be felt at this stage of alcoholism include fainting, involuntary body movement and stomach pains.

Stage Three: Powerlessness

As the illness continues, alcoholics will begin to lose control of their drinking limits. For example, an alcoholic might decide to have one or two drinks but because they cannot stop their cravings, they end up drinking five or six drinks. At this stage, the alcoholism may also begin to damage the individual’s personal life, relationships, financial stability and their careers. The alcoholic may even find them self on the wrong side of the law. The person will also begin to forget about things that were once important to them, such as hobbies and over time this will lead to the neglect of things such as cleanliness and nutrition. The addict may even realise that they have a problem and might try to quit on their own but will most likely fail due to the powerful cravings for alcohol.

Stage Four: Destruction

This stage focuses on an addict’s total loss of control over their drinking. The individual now has to use alcohol to function properly. At this point, the person may have lost their job and may even have damaged the relationships with their loved ones. When the alcoholic tries to quit alcohol, they will experience withdrawal symptoms which include agitation, migraines, fits and in some cases death.


Once alcoholism has reached stage four, the best way to treat it is by residing in an alcohol rehabilitation centre, where alcoholics will receive 24-hour supervised medical care as well as various counselling and therapy such as one-on-one meetings with a psychologist and 12-step group therapy. An alcohol detox may also be done to minimise any withdrawal symptoms that may be experienced, however this is no cure for the addiction. Patients will have to reside in treatment for a minimum of four weeks. If you or a loved one needs access to good quality clinic, we provide access to the best private alcohol rehabilitation centres all over South Africa, the United Kingdom and Thailand. Call us now and let one of our qualified addiction counsellors find the right treatment available for you.


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