Fighting alcoholism is quite a daunting task. The process starts by accepting a few truths; the most important is that alcoholism is a progressive problem. The condition doesn’t develop in one day; instead, the downfall has certain stages. Casual dependence, then relying on alcohol for occasional happiness, which later transforms into dependency and eventually addiction, is how the story of alcohol addiction usually unfolds. Of course, it is spanned over many years. But sometimes, it is just a matter of months, so it is crucial to identify the stages of alcoholism. In this brief, we will seek an answer to the question: what are the stages of alcoholism? Read carefully; you might be able to help a loved one in your life who might be suffering at one of these stages! 

How many stages of alcoholism are there? Four! We discuss these and the progression of alcoholism stages in the following lines. 

Pre-Alcoholic Stage

The pre-alcoholic stage is one of the most challenging stages to identify for multiple reasons. Firstly, alcohol hasn’t started to create any problems at this stage. Secondly, drinking alcohol isn’t a compulsive behavior during the pre-alcoholic phase. Those at this stage sometimes don’t even know it themselves that they can fall prey to more advanced stages of alcoholism. Pre-alcoholic stages don’t always lead to graver consequences. If a person can find better alternatives to drinking, they are automatically saved from the harmful effects of alcohol in the future. But if a person cannot stop using alcohol for stimulating normal physiological body functions, say sleeping, then there is a problem to be taken seriously.

How to identify this stage?

Like we said earlier, determining the pre-alcoholic stage can be a bit of a challenge. We mean to say, how are you going to spot the difference between social drinking and compulsive drinking at such an early stage? How does alcoholism start? Nevertheless, there are a few clues that can come in handy. The first stage of alcoholism is characterized by the following: 

  • Drinkers can’t move in a social gathering without a drink in their hand
  • Alcohol becomes the coping mechanism for fighting fatigue and stress 
  • Emotional discomfort is countered with alcohol all the time

Early-Stage Alcoholism 

We now move to the part where things get a little more serious. During prodromal or early-stage alcoholism, one starts binge drinking. This is also when events like losing consciousness and blacking out become more frequent. Usually, this stage serves as an indicator of how far things have gone. It is pertinent to define the loosely described term binge drinking here. Well, if you see anyone go for a sixth drink in two hours, it is time to grab their hand. Leniency at this stage can often result in graver consequences later. Sure, the joke about someone blacking out after their seventh drink at a party might sound a little funny during daily life chatter. But one cannot rule out a recurrence if it happens one time, which is worrisome. And that’s when one steps into the slippery slope for the first time! Promises are made to give up entirely; promises are broken with an excuse of just a last drink, guilt starts to seep into both body and soul, all these events eventually prove to be detrimental beyond imagination, both physiologically and psychologically. We realize we have painted quite a gloomy picture, but that’s precisely how early-stage alcoholism works! 

How to identify this stage?

Several signs can give a clue about the early-stage alcoholism problem. Some of these signs include:

  • Binge drinking, followed by blacking out
  • Frequent memory lapses
  • Having trouble controlling the amount poured into the cup 
  • Promising and breaking promises of quitting often 

Middle Alcoholic Stage

While the previous two stages were a little hard to identify, the middle alcoholic stage is relatively easy to spot for the drinker’s social circle. Of course, those who are uncomfortable accepting the truth that they have a drinking problem make all the efforts to cover up the issue. However, it is imperative to remember that acceptance is the first step on this road of redemption. Clumsy attempts at covering up the core problem seldom solve it. That is the attitude that friends and family of a middle-stage alcoholic individual need to adopt. The situation often starts to worsen at this stage, with the effects of compulsive drinking in daily life. Home, workplace, school, places of entertainment, nothing seems like it was before one falls prey to middle-stage alcoholism! 

How to identify this stage?

So, how can you identify if someone in your closest circles is suffering from this stage of alcoholism? Here are some of the many signs to look out for:

  • Preferring a bar over bed often. 
  • Feeling hungry all the time
  • Facial redness 
  • Bloating 
  • Excessive sweating
  • Progression in memory loss

End-Stage Alcoholism 

Yes, it gets worse. The end-stage is where an alcoholic starts to feel the effects of long-term alcohol abuse. Nearly all the minor interventions have been tried by the time this stage is reached. Sadly, rarely do they work. Alcohol becomes item number one on the daily schedule. As a result, the risk of plunging into financial plight cannot be ruled out. The dominoes begin to fall; the horrifying sketch is finally fully colored with shades of depression, distress, disease, and doom. 

How to identify this stage?

Sadly, stage 4 alcoholism is the easiest to spot. How badly one wishes it was the case for the pre-alcoholic stage, you know! Anyhow, some of the critical indicators of this stage are: 

  • Paranoia 
  • Fatigue 
  • Malnutrition 
  • Anemia 
  • Liver Cirrhosis 

We have enlisted the physiological indicators in this section only since the psychological and functional effects of alcoholism have been discussed in detail. What is the final stage in the development of alcoholism is naturally the worst one!

Help Will Always Be Given to Those Who Ask For It! 

Just like Albus Dumbledore was always there for Harry, you have to be there for your loved ones too! Loved ones who might be suffering from any of these four stages of alcoholism are discussed in this brief. For every stage, multiple treatments and therapy options are available. Losing hope in life before firing these cylinders is not the way to approach alcoholism. Remember, drinking made someone look smart; surrendering it at the right time will do the same for them!