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distressed man sitting on couch with head in hands thinking about the stages of alcoholism

Stages of Alcoholism

Stages of Alcoholism

The stages of alcoholism can develop rapidly and the physical, social, and emotional consequences can lead to serious problems. Regardless of how quickly or slowly you go through the stages of alcoholism, recovery is possible with proper alcohol addiction treatment.

Alcohol is a quintessential part of holiday celebrations, nightlife, and sporting events. Although alcohol remains legal and widely available in the United States, it carries the risk of abuse and addiction. In fact, 14.4 million adults, or 5.6% of Americans, struggled with an alcohol misuse disorder in 2018. Even though alcohol abuse impacts so many people, only 7.9% of people struggling with the condition receive treatment.

The Stages of Alcoholism

The stages of alcoholism start with your first drink and end with developing a physical dependency on alcohol. Although the first drink doesn’t immediately cause addiction, it can quickly accelerate to recreational use, abuse, and alcoholism. Everybody goes through the stages of alcoholism at their own pace. It can take anywhere from several weeks to several years after your first drink to develop alcoholism.

The only true way to avoid developing an alcohol abuse disorder is to avoid drinking. This means that anyone is susceptible to progressing through the stages of alcoholism, even if none of their close friends or family members have struggled with a substance abuse disorder.

Alcohol is a powerful neurotransmitter inhibitor and causes your brain to release more neurotransmitters than it should. Intoxication is pleasurable, as the neurotransmitters induce positive emotions and relaxation. Unfortunately, your brain connects alcohol with pleasure in the early stages of alcoholism, meaning your brain positively reinforces your drinking by controlling the release of neurotransmitters.

As you progress through the stages of alcoholism, you can:

  • Increase your drinking as your tolerance builds
  • Neglect responsibilities in order to drink
  • Drink alone
  • Drink as soon as you wake up
  • Need to drink in order to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms

Treating Alcoholism

Alcoholism will continue to get worse until you stop drinking. That means treatment is an essential part of achieving lasting sobriety and recovery. When you develop alcoholism, it’s important to avoid all potentially addictive substances, as developing a dependency on alcohol increases your risk of becoming addicted to other substances.

During treatment, which can occur in an inpatient or outpatient setting, you’ll learn how to cope with symptoms like cravings and triggers in a healthy manner. You’ll also learn how to identify and change negative thinking patterns, emotions, and behaviors. Although it takes time to fully recover, treatment provides you with a chance to focus on your physical and emotional wellbeing and heal from alcoholism.

Finding the Best Alcoholism Treatment Today

When you develop alcoholism, your life can feel out of control and unmanageable. The sooner you receive treatment, the easier it is to overcome alcoholism and return to living a healthy and happy life. Regardless of what stages of alcoholism you’ve experienced or are trapped in, it’s never too late, or too early, to begin recovery. Contact us today at 717.969.9126 to learn more about alcoholism and your treatment options.

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