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Alcoholism Stages: The Most Important Stages of Alcoholism

Some people say there are three alcoholism stages ... others say four ... and some even say five. In my opinion, it doesn't really matter how many stages of alcoholism there are because at the end of the day they all cover pretty much the same principles.

So ... let me try and explain them to you as best I can because irrespective of how many stages there are, understanding them is the most important thing so you can see how alcoholism evolves, how it increasingly affects you and how dangerous it actually is.

Alcoholism Stage One: Typically also referred to as the Early or Adaptive Stage

Here your drinking takes on more than just a social element, even though it is still mostly masked as a social activity. What do I mean by that?

You drink to help your mood to help you feel better because you may be feeling stressed or you think problems you’re having are easier to deal with when you’re drinking. Your tolerance to alcohol begins to increase, but no one really notices anything different about you or your behaviour.

Second Stage of Alcoholism: Also known as the Middle Stage

Your desire to drink becomes more intense and you start to drink more than you used to, often now starting earlier in the day. At this stage, loss of control begins to take effect. Your body now begins to struggle to process alcohol as it used to be able to - meaning symptoms like hangovers, blackouts, tremors and stomach problems become apparent.

Other people now begin to notice that there may be a problem, which is generally dismissed by you because you’re most likely in denial. Or you make empty promises about stopping/cutting down your drinking, which inevitably are unsuccessful. You also generally don’t see the problem as being with yourself and justify your behaviour with all the things ‘wrong’ with your life.

Alcoholism Stage Three: Known as the End/Late Stage

The final stage of alcoholism is characterised by a chronic loss of control. You become obsessed with drinking to the exclusion of almost everything else and start to avoid family/friends, and even stop doing the things you previously enjoyed.

The biggest sign of being in this stage is that your life begins to fall apart. You now need to drink to even be able to function so holding down a job becomes almost impossible and you may also find yourself in serious financial problems as a result.

Your mental/physical health also starts to rapidly deteriorate with serious liver damage being done and malnutrition a major symptom because your body is no longer receiving the vitamins and nutrients it needs – which leads to a loss of appetite, fatigue and emotional instability.

You get a serious case of the shakes when you stop drinking, which is a sign of a serious nervous disorder and often combined with the shakes you may begin having hallucinations, resulting in DT’s (delirium tremens) – making this a stage where death becomes a very real possibility.

That covers all the stages of alcoholism for you. I’ve kept them down to three, but I could have expanded them to four or five if I wanted to. Like I said at the beginning though, it doesn’t really matter how many alcoholism stages there are – ensuring you understand how alcoholism progresses is the most important thing.

Having the knowledge or theory is all very well though – what you ultimately do with it however is what counts. So I recommend you also check out the Chronic Alcoholism and Progression of Alcoholism pieces which are related to this one.

Understanding the Alcoholism as a Disease perspective and the Causes of Drug Addiction and Alcoholism are also important to gain a broader perspective.

But ultimately effective Alcoholism Addiction Treatment, recognising the Major Symptoms of Alcoholism, and how to ensure you maintain your sobriety and avoid relapse through Various Alcohol Addiction Recovery Strategies are what is required to successfully overcome a serious alcohol problem.

For a helping hand on demand, visit, where you'll be able to interact with others going through what you are.

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