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 is 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. 

The addiction specialists at Sana Lake Recovery Center want to help individuals recognize the signs and risk factors that lead to alcohol use disorder. 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 dependent on alcohol, 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 that drinking 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 use disorder 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 people choose to drink. 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: 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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 beginning alcohol use disorder is crucial to you or a loved one realizing that they need help. 

Alcoholism is a progressive disease that occurs in stages. Therefore, knowing the signs and symptoms of each stage of alcoholism can also save lives. It can also 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 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. It 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 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, they are now at 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 misusing alcohol uncontrollably, and finally start to experience the 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, 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 such as the symptoms of withdrawal. Each time you sober up, the body is not only hungover but is confused when no alcohol is being consumed. 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 having alcoholism. They have become addicted to alcohol, characterized by the need to physically and psychologically drink.

The only way to recover from alcoholism and become sober again is to seek 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 use disorder and mental illnesses that occur simultaneously are known as dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. Those who are suffering from alcoholism may also have an underlying mental illness. However, because they are oftentimes so hard to detect and diagnose, the addiction and the underlying mental illness is left untreated. This can result 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 use disorder 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 today!



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.

Dual Diagnosis: Is Your Alcoholism Caused By a Mental Illness? Key Indications it Could Be

The truth of the matter is, drinking alcohol is considered a social norm, but can easily become the beginning of the road to alcohol abuse. While people do not have the intention of abusing alcohol when they first start to drink, alcoholism often occurs as a result of continual binge drinking. As a depressant, people turn to alcohol for various reasons, and either become dependent very quickly or for others, it takes longer. In whatever case, it is important to know, that alcohol dependence can lead down a very dark path, leading to serious life-changing complications. 

Nearly 17 million American adults in the United States have an alcohol-related problem, meaning having a dependency or addiction to alcohol, otherwise known as an alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcoholism. Research conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), states that approximately 88,000 people die annually from alcoholism-related causes that could have been prevented. 

In fact, alcoholism is the third leading cause of preventable deaths throughout the United States. Let these statistics sink in. This means, that those people suffering could have received help for their addiction, but couldn’t or it was too late.

How Do I Know if I’m an Alcoholic? 

If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms outlined by the DSM-V, they more than likely qualify as being an alcoholic. These include:

  • Drinking excessively for a longer period of time than intended.
  • Incapable of cutting back on the amount consumed.
  • Becoming or making yourself sick due to drinking too much.
  • Inability to function or concentrate without craving alcohol. 
  • Inability to carry out important tasks, such as caring for family, holding down a job, or going to school. 
  • Continuing to drink despite strained relationships with friends or family.
  • Convincing others to also drink. 
  • Pushing away from activities or people that were once important. 
  • Finding yourself in dangerous or harmful situations because of drinking. 
  • Continuously drinking and blacking out despite it causing depression, anxiety, and other health problems. 
  •  Drinking more because you are dependent and tolerant of it. 
  •  You are experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these statements above, it is best to start seeking help from a professional alcohol treatment center, the earlier the better. Sana Lake Recovery Center in Dittmer, Missouri can help you recover so that you can live a long-term healthy and sober lifestyle. 

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis also referred to as co-occurring disorders are when substance abuse and a mental health disorder occur simultaneously. It is extremely important to note, that mental health can be caused by excessive drinking, or those with an already existing mental disorder, such as anxiety or depression, oftentimes turn to alcohol as their substance of choice, to suppress and numb what they are feeling. 

When there is a dual diagnosis present, a person who has substance abuse can have multiple conditions, and vice versa. For example, a functioning alcoholic can suffer from bipolar disorder, heroin or crack addict can have clinical depression, the combinations are endless. According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.9 million people in the United States experience co-disorders, most commonly men, 4.1 million of them to be exact. The symptoms of dual diagnosis include: 

  • Isolation from loved ones, family and friends
  • Denial to get help
  • Extreme changes in mood, becoming increasingly irritable, angry, or anxious
  • Changes in appetite, such as eating more or less than usual
  • Losing motivation and energy
  • Noticeable loss in focus or completing everyday tasks 
  • Neglecting personal or professional responsibilities
  • Trying to justify drinking excessively 

An individual with co-occurring disorders, for example, depression, are more likely to be the one to drink alcohol, as a means of self-medicating to get rid of negative thoughts and feelings of helplessness. Specific research has shown that while excessive drinking does not produce behavioral conditions, alcohol consumption exacerbates the symptoms of mental illness, making it increasingly more difficult to treat. 

Alcoholism and Mental Illness are Linked 

Alcoholism and mental illness are linked but in various ways. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that about one-third of individuals who are struggling with alcohol abuse problems, also suffer from a mental illness. This is called a dual diagnosis. While this is very true, it is not always the case, as everyone and their level of addiction are different. 

Mental illness is defined as a condition that affects a person’s mood, thinking, emotions, and behavior. These conditions often affect someone’s ability to function properly and maintain normal relationships with others. There are various types and levels of mental illness, which affect each person with one, differently. The most common mental health conditions that occur when abusing alcohol and other substances include:

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Clinical Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Dementia
  • Attention Deficit Disorder/Hyperactivity (ADD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 

As mental illness affects a person’s ability to function, in addition to thinking and feeling properly, so does drinking alcohol, excessively. Addiction is a mind-altering disease, so when that addiction is alcohol, as a depressant, it impairs and slows down one’s central nervous system (CNS), where the vital parts of the brain — mainly its physical and psychological activity become significantly reduced. 

It is evident that alcohol especially worsens the symptoms of mental illnesses, and therefore treatment by professionals who specialize in mental disorders and addiction is of utmost importance. While help is needed for addicts suffering from alcoholism and a mental disorder, oftentimes, dual diagnosis goes undiagnosed and untreated for long periods of time, which is greatly responsible for the increase in the rate of relapses.

Truth is, dual diagnosis is the key to a patient’s successful recovery. While addiction relates to trauma, anxiety, depression, and biochemical imbalances in the brain, addicts usually attempt to regulate or relieve their pain by using and abusing substances of their choice. Dual diagnosis combines both the factors or symptoms of addiction so that a patient can be treated properly and be on the road to recovery, to ultimately live a healthy and sober lifestyle

The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

There is no doubt that there is an ongoing stigma surrounding mental health, one that medical professionals or those suffering have been trying to put to rest. It is important to realize that while some individuals may be open about struggling with substance abuse and addiction, others deny having a problem at all, which is a common reaction for various reasons. People struggling with both alcohol abuse and a mental disorder view their predicament as a failure and an embarrassment.

As a result, people are afraid to admit they have a problem, which is detrimental on all levels, but it happens all the time, and unfortunately, sometimes too late. Alcoholism and mental health is a sensitive subject. In cases such as these, it may be beneficial to discuss the matter with an alcohol counselor or treatment specialist. Denial and ignoring this severe problem will only cause further complications and take complete control over a person’s life. 

How is Dual Diagnosis Treated?

Getting help is the first step, and the sooner the better. Early diagnosis equals successful outcomes in the medical world. In other words, the sooner that symptoms of dual diagnosis are recognized and treated properly, the greater the chance for long-term recovery. 

The idea that both a substance abuse problem, such as alcoholism, and having a mental disorder need to be treated separately is outdated. Today, co-occurring disorders are often treated together. The goal during treatment for dual diagnosis is to understand the ways each condition; alcoholism and depression, for example, affect one another, and how treatment can be most effective. 

During treatment for dual diagnosis, you and your treatment provider will sit down and go through what is called the intake or medically-assisted detox. This comprehensive process allows the treatment center to get to know the patient as a whole, by doing a psychological assessment and gathering medical history. This allows specialists to be able to administer the right form of treatment, tailoring it to each patient’s needs, as everyone and their situations are different. Here are the most common methods used to treat co-occurring disorders: 

  • Inpatient Rehab: A person experiencing both this dangerous combination of substance abuse and mental illness may benefit from entering into an inpatient rehabilitation center. Inpatient rehab is also known as residential treatment, where individuals will live at the facility and receive treatment from medical and mental health professionals around the clock. Inpatient rehab provides support, therapy, and health services to best treat the alcohol use disorder (AUD, mental disorder, and its underlying cause. 
  • Outpatient Rehab: A person with a dual diagnosis often benefits from entering an outpatient rehab after living in inpatient rehab for an extended period of time. However, everyone’s treatment journey is different. Outpatient programs allow patients to recover from their co-occurring disorders while living a more independent life at home. People will not live at the facility like in inpatient, but will still attend hours of treatment several times each week, participating in various programs and support groups. With the help of treatment specialists, aside from attending groups and programs, they will also learn the necessary coping skills to learn how to best deal with their mental health in everyday situations. Most addiction treatment centers also offer intensive outpatient programs (IOP) for those who need extreme treatment.
  • Detoxification: The first part of the comprehensive treatment plan before being admitted into a rehabilitation center is called detox. Trained medical staff will monitor a person and start to wean them off their substance of choice, in this case, alcohol until it is removed entirely from the bloodstream. Withdrawals will occur, but the goal is to lessen symptoms and the effect it has on the body. Once detox is complete, the person will be admitted into an inpatient or outpatient program to continue their journey to recovery.

Sana Lake Can Help You Recover

At Sana Lake Recovery Center, our specialists know how to treat both substance abuse and mental health disorders simultaneously. We will examine both the addiction side and mental health side, and as a result, administer the right treatment plan to treat both in hopes of having an optimal outcome of sobriety.  

We are a world-class facility, where our approach is individually based, as we recognize everyone’s situations and needs are different. Our specialists pride ourselves in providing the most effective personalized treatment plan for our patient’s suffering from both substance abuse issues, such as alcoholism, and co-occurring mental health issues. We will evaluate each person’s needs to determine what program would benefit the most, in addition to providing them with the basic lifestyle and coping skills, and other tools they need to live a high-quality of life. 

If are suffering from alcohol abuse and a mental disorder, here at Sana Lake, we specialize in dual diagnosis and understand the challenges and fears that you are facing while overcoming alcohol abuse. While it is not easy to stop using a substance that you have been dependent on, our compassionate team is dedicated to helping save and change our patient’s lives for the better. You are not alone! To get help today, contact us in Dittmer, MO today. 



Moderate, Heavy, Binge: The Levels of Problem Drinking

Do you know the different levels of drinking and when consumption is considered problem drinking?

Read this guide to learn the differences between each level.

Problem drinking is described as the tendency of using alcohol in such a way that it affects you negatively. The difference between problem drinking and alcoholism is that, unlike an alcoholic, a problem drinker is not physically dependent on alcohol. The physical dependence on alcohol by alcoholics results in health problems. You may need to seek treatment for this physical dependence.


Several tendencies may classify you as a problem drinker. Here are a few examples:

  • If drinking puts you in a position to miss important activities such as school or job
  • Makes you feel socially isolated even with friends and close family members
  • Makes you an individual who is quick to anger, reacts violently to situations or forces you into depression
  • If it makes you spend unnecessarily on alcohol at the expense of beneficial activities like grocery resulting in financial problems
  • When alcohol puts you in a position where you don’t get along with family and close friends
  • When alcohol results to you making an unsound decision such as sexual offenses
  • When you experience blackouts

The physical dependency created by alcohol may turn a problem drinker into an alcoholic. But how does one understand at what level of drinking they are at? Here is how to learn and understand your drinking tendencies.

The CDC considers binge drinking a serious threat to public health. However, it is preventable. It has been named one of the most expensive and deadly drinking patterns in the United States.

It is characterized by excessive use of alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism describes binge drinking as:

“NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after four drinks for women and five drinks for men—in about 2 hours.”


There are severe risks related to binge drinking, such as:

  • Resorting to violence such as sexual offenses
  • The occurrence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
  • Sexual misconducts resulting in sexually transmitted diseases
  • Development of chronic diseases such as liver and heart diseases
  • For pregnant women, it may lead to miscarriage, sudden infant death syndrome, and stillbirth
  • Binge drinking may result in alcohol dependency
  • It might further lead to memory and learning problems


Binge drinking can be prevented. Here are recommendable approaches:

  • Increasing taxes on alcohol is a strategic way of reducing usage
  • Reducing the number of alcohol outlets will result in less exposure hence lowered frequency of consumption
  • Alcohol retailers must be held accountable for any minor who is found in possession of alcohol
  • Restricting days and hours of purchase will reduce overindulgence
  • Before any significant selection, individuals should be screened and counseled for any possibility of misuse


Consumption of alcohol takes a while for effects to manifest. Here are the stages of alcohol binge:

  1. Stage 1: subclinical intoxication- the intoxication may not appear at 0.01-0.05 BAC although impairment may be detected in certain tests. This stage depends on the individual, their level of judgment, and how they react.
  2. Stage 2: Euphoria- it occurs between 0.03 and 0.12 BAC. It is characterized by individuals becoming more talkative and confident.
  3. Stage 3: excitement- occurs between 0.09 and 0.25 BAC. It is characterized by emotional unpredictability and poor judgment.
  4. Stage 4: confusion- occurs between 0.18 and 0.30 BAC. It is characterized by emotional stupefaction and disruption.
  5. Stage 5: stupor- occur between 0.25 and 0.40 BAC. It is characterized by extreme intoxication and may result in poisoning or death.
  6. Stage 6: coma- occurs between 0.35 and 0.45 BAC. This is a hazardous stage characterized by numerous health failures such as depressed motor functions.
  7. Stage 7: occurs estimably at 0.45 BAC. The body cells are failing at keeping up with the alcohol content and are beginning to lose a life.

The Levels of Problem Drinking

There are 3 levels of problem drinking.

1. Moderate Drinking

Moderate drinking has been described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one drink or less for women and two drinks or lower for men.

Compared to heavy drinking, moderate drinking encompasses four or fewer drinks on one occasion or eight or fewer occasions throughout the week. Fourteen grams of alcohol is the standardized amount of one drink rationed in 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine and 15 ounces of liquor.

2. Binge Drinking

Alcohol binge shouldn’t be confused for drinking too much. Unlike drinking too much, alcohol binging can be done when people have an occasion, and alcohol isn’t necessarily a problem. A drinking tendency is considered binging once the alcohol level gets to 0.08 percent or more.

Drinking too much is referred to as heavy drinking. Individuals who take several drinks throughout the day are also classified as heavy drinkers.

That is, within each 24hours, three to four drinks are consumed. This is considered as heavy drinking even when the person never gets drunk.

3. Heavy Drinking

Most heavy drinkers have been associated with alcohol addiction. In this case, they are usually in constant yearning for alcohol and are unable to limit their drinking. Heavy drinkers continue to consume alcohol despite evident psychological and physical harmful effects.

In cases where one decides to stop drinking, withdrawal symptoms may emerge, such as hallucination or fever. Similar to binge drinking, heavy drinkers may develop fatal health problems such as liver cirrhosis, inflammation of the pancreas, heart failure, and high blood pressure.

In severe cases, however, they might even die. Heavy drinkers and alcohol binging may indirectly put themselves at a position where they become victims of unintended dangerous activities. For instance, sexual offenses, death by driving while drunk, etc.

Problem Drinking

Drinking alcohol may be beneficial to your health. Moderate drinking means understanding whether your drinking stage is safe or whether it has become dangerous for your health and social life. Alcohol-related issues such as alcoholism, problem drinking, and alcohol binging differ in men and women.

Contact us if you’d like to talk to someone about your alcohol issue.