alcoholism

What Are the Stages of Alcoholism?

The prevalence of drinking alcohol in the United States and around the world is unprecedented. In fact, approximately two billion people around the world drink alcohol. All human behavior has a motivation behind it, and the reasons why people drink alcohol are all unique. 

Whatever your reasoning behind drinking alcohol is, we must understand that there are a fine line and difference between casual drinking and abusive drinking. It usually starts with people drinking casually, but then they realize that this habit has turned into an obsession/addiction and that they can’t drink in moderation anymore. 

Alcohol dependency turns into an addiction. Without help, this choice that has turned into a life-changing consequence will become worse and could result in death due to overdose. If someone does not go to treatment and receive the professional help that they need to manage their addiction properly. 

The addiction specialists at Sana Lake Recovery Center want to help individuals recognize the signs and risk factors that lead to alcohol abuse. Therefore, here is our guide to recognizing the stages of alcoholism, which in turn, will help lead you or your loved one to a life of sobriety. 

Recognizing the Signs of Addiction: What Are The Stages of Alcoholism?

What is Alcoholism? 

In the United States, alcoholism is the third leading cause of death, killing 88,000 people every year. 62,000 men and 26,000 were women. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reported that 17 million American adults develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD), resulting in the death of 1 in 20 people. 

An alarming statistic from The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that people who experiment with drinking alcohol before they are 15 years old are five times more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol and become an alcoholic, than those who don’t start drinking until the legal age of 21. 

Alcoholism is more than just drinking an excessive amount. The Mayo Clinic defines it as the inability to control the amount one drinks, due to having an emotional and physical dependence on alcohol. 

In other words, a person who becomes an alcoholic cannot control their craving or urges to drink. Thus, this preoccupation causes them to drink uncontrollably, otherwise known as binge drinking, despite the consequences it causes with work, school, various relationships, financially, and most importantly, with one’s health. 

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that does not discriminate. Remember, people who suffer from substance abuse made a choice that resulted in a consequence; they did not choose or realize that they were going to become addicted. Some individuals are more susceptible and more at risk of developing this disease more than others. It depends on various factors including, genetics/family history, how much one drinks, environment, mental health, etc.   

Why Do People Choose to Drink?

The truth is, there are various reasons why we drink, but most commonly, alcohol is a beverage that is so widely accepted in our society, where everyone has a different experience experimenting with it. The most common reasons why people choose to consume alcohol include: 

Accessibility 

Probably the top reason why people drink alcohol is that it is so easily accessible. While the drinking age is 21 in the United States, and around 18 in most countries, including Europe, drinking is a choice people make because it is so easy to, and simply, because they can. 

Fun

Drinking alcohol is a very social activity. Being with friends in a carefree environment and drinking makes them feel happy due to the release of endorphins. People simply drink just to have fun and “let loose” because they think it enhances their experience, especially for those who are usually more introverted. Alcohol usually helps people come out of their shells. 

Preference

People also drink alcohol just because it is their preference, and they enjoy the taste. Enjoying an alcoholic beverage over other types of drinks is just what some people choose to do. 

Curiosity 

Especially with the younger generations, kids, teenagers, and college students will start experimenting with drinking alcohol as some probably have never drunk before. Therefore, they are curious and start to drink to know what it tastes like, or wonder what it feels like to be drunk. It is purely an experimental phase, which can also lead to other dangerous things if not careful. 

Stress and Lower Inhibitions

Being under the influence of alcohol tends to make someone lose their inhibitions, meaning that it gives a person a sense of feeling carefree and that nothing can get in their way. It also allows them to behave in ways that they wouldn’t if they were sober. 

For many people drinking alcohol is a major stress reliever. It helps people unwind and de-stress, or so they think. Drinking appears to help numb one’s pain, allowing them to forget about all the stressors going on in their lives. However, what is ironic is that drinking when you are stressed often creates more complications, and they can develop a drinking problem, which is what often happens. 

The Stages of Alcoholism

Professional help at a treatment facility is a person’s best chance at recovery and a sober lifestyle. Recognizing the signs of becoming an alcoholic is crucial to you or a loved one realizing that they need addiction treatment. 

Alcoholism is a progressive disease that occurs in stages. Therefore, knowing the signs and symptoms of each stage of alcoholism can also save lives, and possibly help someone avoid the consequences of dependency and addiction before they occur.

It is important to note that everyone’s case of alcohol addiction is different and unique. While drinking does affect people in similar ways in terms of getting drunk, how people act while under the influence is not the same. An alcohol use disorder (AUD), typically occurs in five stages. These stages of alcoholism are as follows: 

Stage 1: Early-Stage Alcoholism: Experimentation and Occasional Binge Drinking 

The first and beginning stage of alcoholism is called early-stage alcoholism. During this stage, a person begins to experiment with drinking alcohol, a common occurrence with young adults. Since most people who engage in this stage are just beginning to enjoy drinking, they tend to drink an excessive amount, or what is called binge drinking.

For women that are four or more beverages in two hours, and for men, it is five or more drinks within two hours. This amount is often exceeded. Consuming this large amount of alcohol in such a short period is extremely dangerous, and can lead to serious health complications, coma, or worse, death. 

Stage 2: Middle-Stage Alcoholism: Increased drinking 

In the second stage, also known as Middle-Stage Alcoholism, people have already left this element of experimentation, which occurs in the first stage. Drinking starts to increase and escalate. As a result of increasing the amount of being drunk, people quickly develop increased tolerance and dependence on alcohol. 

Since the body becomes used to large amounts of alcohol becoming consumed in such a short amount of time (binge drinking), the body becomes used to it (tolerance), which results in dependence. Since a person at this stage can no longer control their drinking and do so in moderation, they are now at major risk of developing alcoholism.

Stages 3 and 4: End-Stage Alcoholism: Problem Drinking

Stage three is when a person is considered a “problem-drinker.” This means that they have been abusing alcohol uncontrollably, and finally start to experience physical and social consequences of their actions. In this stage, the problem-drinker can become depressed, anxious, and develop insomnia, and start losing sleep. Relationship issues and decreased social activity usually also will occur because of their preoccupation with alcohol. 

Stage 4: Dependence 

Alcoholism has two main components, dependency and addiction. While they are two different things, they are related to one another. When someone reaches the last stage in the alcoholism cycle, they are attached to alcohol, and it has taken control over various aspects of one’s life. 

While you may be aware of the adverse side-effects and symptoms of drinking excessively causes, it is too late, because all control over how much one drinks is lost. 

As a result of drinking heavily, the body becomes dependent or used to how much of a substance has entered the bloodstream. In other words, because the body has now become tolerant of alcohol, you may have to drink larger amounts of it to feel buzzed or drunk. 

Drinking excessively causes damaging effects to the body, one being symptoms of withdrawal. Each time you sober up, the body is not only hungover but is confused when no alcohol is being consumed, because again, the body is used to it. Therefore, the body reacts by producing undesirable symptoms such as nausea, tremors, sweating, irritability, insomnia, diarrhea, etc. 

Stage 5: Addiction

The last and final stage of alcoholism is addiction. In this stage, a person is officially defined as an alcoholic, as they have become addicted to alcohol, characterized by the need to physically and psychologically drink. The only way to recover from alcoholism and addiction and become sober again is to attend treatment at a specialized treatment center, such as Sana Lake Recovery Center in Dittmer, Missouri. 

Dual Diagnosis: Mental Illness and Alcoholism

A common risk factor of addiction is mental illness. People with any sort of mental illness such as anxiety or depression often turn to substances such as alcohol to cope with their symptoms. 

Alcohol abuse and mental illnesses that occur simultaneously are known as dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. Those who are alcoholics also may have an underlying mental illness, but, because they are oftentimes so hard to detect and diagnose, the addiction and the underlying mental illness is left untreated, resulting in major complications, and even death due to relapse and overdose. 

At Sana Lake Recovery Center, we believe that mental illness is the foundation of one’s health. Therefore, during the intake and detox processes, we make sure to fully understand all of your medical histories, and make a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to each person’s needs.

Everyone is different, so treatments will vary. Both mental illness and alcoholism will be treated to ensure an optimal chance of recovery and sobriety. 

Recovery From Alcoholism is Possible At Sana Lake Recovery Center

At Sana Lake Recovery Center, we educate our members on the stages of alcoholism to help them cope with their disease. People must recognize the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse to identify the problem and receive the necessary help that they need. 

To learn more about the stages of alcoholism, and how you or a loved one can receive the help needed to reach long-term sobriety, contact us by calling (636) 707-2097 today.   

References

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

https://www.healthline.com/health/stages-alcoholism#addiction

https://www.alcohol.org/alcoholism-types/stages/

alcoholism

Is a Loved One Struggling with Alcoholism? Five Reasons They Should Consider Treatment

When faced with confronting our loved ones with their alcoholism, many more times than not it is a lot harder than we anticipate. They may deny their addiction has even happened or refuse to accept help from anyone because they believe they can conquer it alone. No matter how strong their fight is against getting help and receiving treatment, your main reason to continue on until they agree should be to help them live a longer, happier life. Not only will they be grateful you stepped in to help them realize the potential of gaining their sobriety back, but you will help save their life and be able to have them around a lot longer to celebrate.  

Why Addiction Happens

Life can sometimes get us down. The weight of stress and anxiety from day to day can become overwhelming, and with this comes the risk of turning to substances like alcohol in order to escape from the everyday struggles we all face. Not everyone will turn to 

Drinking once in a blue moon to numb the pain of a certain situation going wrong in life is not something that should be worried about. Everyone should be allowed to have a drink or two after a breakup, loss of a job, being stressed out, etc. to relax and relieve some anxiety. The problem of alcoholism occurs when someone decides to drink every once in a while isn’t enough, and they begin to use alcohol to cope with everyday life.

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

No matter what kind of alcohol is being consumed, various signs will hallmark an addiction. For example, consider the following:

Seclusion from Others: People struggling with alcoholism may want to be alone the majority of the time and hide in their homes instead of agreeing to outside plans. In addition, they also lose interest in hobbies they previously enjoyed.

Possible Depression or Anxiety: In some cases, addiction can bring about a co-existing mental health condition. For example, some people suffer from accompanying depression and anxiety when they face alcoholism.

Physical Changes: Physical changes are common and can include many things. Some people may not be interested in bathing, brushing their hair, or handling other self-care tasks. Other signs may include red eyes and dark circles from lack of sleep, as well.

Extreme Mood Swings: Someone addicted to alcohol will oftentimes act completely normal when under the influence. As the amount of consumed alcohol goes up or once the individual experiences the “coming down” from a drunk, their mood will change. They can become angry or extremely sad one minute and experience a completely different mood the next.

The First Step to Helping Someone With an Addiction

Family and friends who have been faced with alcoholism will oftentimes refuse help or hide from their addiction. In order for them to know that they will not have to go through the process of recovery alone, it is important to stage an intervention. An intervention is when loved ones who care about the affected individual’s well-being schedule a gathering where they show their support and worries about the individual’s addiction. The people in attendance will share personal stories about their experience with the person’s addiction and how it has affected their relationship. 

The goal of the intervention should be to express concerns in a helpful way and to give the addict their options. They will hopefully decide to receive treatment instead of continuing to travel down the path they’re on. Our specialists here at Sana Lake Recovery Center are able to provide more information on intervention preparation and shed light on what professional help for the individual will look like once at our treatment center.

Five Reasons to Encourage Getting Treatment

Because addiction treatment has such a negative connotation, it is important to come up with a variety of reasons to show the person you know struggling with alcoholism of what they could achieve by going to a rehabilitation center. There are many reasons to include, but we believe five of the main reasons are:

  • Gaining Financial Stability. Although treatment costs are high, spending a large amount on an addict’s future health versus being a prisoner to substance abuse is a worthwhile investment. After the treatment is finished and sobriety is achieved, it will be a lot easier for the affected individual to go back to work and financially support themselves than when they were addicted to alcohol.

 

  • Repairing Relationships. When going through addiction, many individuals lose sight of what is important. They place their substance over everything, including their relationship with their loved ones. By beating their addiction, they will be able to focus on rebuilding their relationships they once lost.

 

  • Building a Support System. Addicts oftentimes believe they are facing their struggles and worries alone, which is why they turn to alcohol in the first place. By participating in group therapy and family therapy programs at Sana Lake, they will be able to turn to others instead of turning to a substance for support.

 

  • Developing Passions. Alcohol becomes the only thing someone cares about during his or her addiction. Once sobriety has been achieved, they are able to see the many other options for happiness that life has to offer. 

 

  • Saving Their Life. If alcoholic individuals carry down the same path for too long, their bodies and minds will eventually start to give out to their addictions. By attending our programs at Sana Lake, they will have a better chance of living a longer, healthier life than they would have when facing their addiction by themselves.

 

Alcoholism Treatment Services Provided at Sana Lake Recovery

Medically Monitored Inpatient Detoxification: Detoxification refers to the process of weaning an individual’s body off the substance they were abusing. It’s been proven the safest to slowly clear the body of the unwanted substance as opposed to going cold turkey 

Adult Substance Use Disorder Residential and Outpatient Psychosocial Services: Inpatient services are provided around the clock at treatment facilities for those who require more care for their addiction. Outpatient treatments allow patients to maintain somewhat of a normal lifestyle, so they can continue to go to school or work to provide for their families.

Naturopathic and Holistic Treatment: Both of these treatments require a desire to not only help one’s body but also one’s mind and spirit. Naturopathic treatments focus on using natural remedies to cure the body like acupuncture and massaging to relieve excess stress. Holistic treatments are centered on finding the “bigger picture,” and they encourage patients to believe in something larger than this life has to offer. 

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment (Individual and Group Therapy): When someone is diagnosed with a substance disorder, it is often accompanied by a mental disorder. This treatment is to help someone struggling with multiple disorders and focuses on how to treat both at the same time.

Trauma Therapy (Individual and Group Therapy, including EMDR): Individual and group trauma treatment focuses on pinpointing the time in a person’s life that inflicted so much mental or even physical pain on them that it caused them to want to turn to a substance to help cope with the memory. Included in this are the EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy that uses an individual’s eye movements to decrease the power of emotionally charged memories.

Medication-Assisted Treatment: This is the common term for prescribing patients medication in order to cope with certain disorders, whether it is substance abuse or a mental disorder.

Family Programming: These programs aim to help all individuals affected by substance abuse, not just the patient. They encourage family members to attend these sessions to help them understand why their loved one has developed an addiction.

Wellness Programming: These programs intend to show former addicts how to live a healthy lifestyle. Patients are taught how to eat healthily, exercise and even develop their spirituality. All of these encourage them to find another, healthier outlet to avoid the substance they abused for so long.

Clinical Staff

Our Sana Lake staff works around the clock to ensure that patients are receiving the full amount of assistance they need to overcome their disorder. Our psychiatrists and clinicians assess the severity of the condition a patient is in. They then work to create a plan that best suits what the patient requires, whether it is inpatient or outpatient services. Once admitted into the program, our medical professionals begin the detoxification process that will ultimately lead the patient to other treatment programs. 

Our nursing staff is trained to manage all medications prescribed to patients while in the facility. We have EMDR trained therapists that use eye movement techniques to reduce the severity of emotionally charged memories. Also present at the facility are individual and family therapists that focus directly on the patient and their families in order to help all parties involved understand why the disorder occurred. All of these professionals strive to meet the needs and goals of each patient that is admitted into our facility here at Sana Lake.

About Sana Lake Recovery Center

Our Dittmer team strives to service and educate individuals needing assistance with helping their loved ones receive the treatment they need. We are able to help not only the Missouri community but also individuals across the nation. If you believe you or a loved one needs more information on alcohol abuse recovery, please contact us today at 855-745-3336.