As alcoholism progresses, the cells in the body become more and more resistant to the short-term effects of alcohol. As a person continues drinking excessively, the cells will continue to adapt. Eventually, the presence of alcohol becomes the norm for the body, and the long-term damage continues. As the stage progresses, the disease takes hold and develops into middle-stage alcoholism.

  • For example, they can think and talk normally or walk a straight line with no problem.
  • As alcoholism progresses, the alcoholic becomes obsessed with drinking–sometimes to the exclusion of nearly everything else.
  • If you have a drinking problem, it usually won’t take you long to develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
  • Over time, repeated alcohol exposure also alters a person’s brain chemistry.

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3 stages of alcoholism

They might still get drunk even after drinking only a little bit. 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. While the recovery period may be challenging, it’s also filled with milestones that can transform your life into one that’s better than you could have previously imagined.

  • Alcoholism is a treatable disease, with many treatment programs and approaches available to support alcoholics who have decided to get help.
  • Here, we briefly share the basics about AUD, from risk to diagnosis to recovery.
  • A moderate drinker might pair a glass of wine with a meal, while a regular drinker uses alcohol to feel good in general.
  • Often times, these individuals may not even realize that they have a drinking problem either.

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However, as the amount or frequency of drinking increases, the earliest of the alcoholism stages can develop as a result. Watching a loved one endure the end stages of alcoholism can be frustrating and lonely. The feeling of powerlessness is stifling as you watch someone you care about slowly deteriorate physically and mentally while they may even continue to refuse to admit their drinking is problematic. For those who need help and don’t want it, intervention may be the only alternative. Alcohol use disorder is considered a progressive disease, meaning that the effects of drinking alcohol become increasingly more severe over time.

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During acute and protracted withdrawal, a profound negative emotional state evolves, termed hyperkatifeia (hyper-kuh-TEE-fee-uh). These brain changes related to excessive alcohol use underlie many AUD symptoms. When casual drinkers move into early-stage alcoholism, their tolerance begins to rise. They can often hold conversations without stuttering or slurring. They may appear to maintain coordination and motor skills to some degree.

3 stages of alcoholism

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