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Alcohol Addiction Stages: All You Need to Know

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Alcohol is considered one of the most commonly abused substances that is known to lead to acute medical, social & psychological challenges. Alcohol addiction or alcoholism does not develop overnight; it is rather a gradual process and includes key stages.

What is alcohol addiction and Stages of Alcoholism?

Most definitions of alcoholism incorporate the following dimensions:

  1. Large quantities of alcohol consumed over a period of years
  2. Physiological manifestations of ethanol addiction
  3. Loss of control over drinking, shown by an inability to stop or refrain
  4. Damage to physical health or social standing resulting from sustained alcohol abuse.

Individuals are known to undergo these 3 stages of alcoholism

  1. The asymptomatic drinker
  2. The alcohol abuser &
  3. The alcohol-dependent

As the name suggests, the asymptomatic drinker is an individual with a habit of heavy drinking but does not exhibit symptoms of alcoholism. There might not be any adverse consequences of drinking. This stage may persist without any change over the years; however, it has the scope to evolve into alcohol abuse.  The essential feature of alcohol abuse is a pattern of pathologic alcohol use for at least a month that causes impairment in social or occupational function along with medical consequences.

One-third of alcohol abusers do not evolve further as in one-third return to asymptomatic drinking and about one-third to one half evolves into a dependency that has a repetitive loss of control of drinking with impairment in social or occupational functioning due to alcohol use.

Process of becoming an alcoholic: alcohol addiction signs

  1. Pre-alcoholic symptomatic phase: The pre-alcoholism usually starts with one or two casual drinks at a social gathering or function. Some may start drinking to chase away their worries or stress of day-to-day lives. Soon, they will start associating drinking with pain relief and this will lead to quite a frequent alcohol intake ritual.
  2. Prodigal phase: In this phase, there is an increase in both the frequency of drinking and the quality of the drink. However, with this comes the guilt factor. The individual is aware that he has reached a stage of alcoholism that has direct implications for his personal, physiological, and social obligations.
  3. Crucial phase: In this phase, drinking becomes conspicuous. In this stage, the individual starts to rationalize his drinking behavior and shows no signs of ceasing consumption. The individual is even agreeable to evading personal or social encounters and starts alienating himself from peers and closed ones.
  4. Chronic. Phase: In this phase, drinking becomes an obsession and the individual does not feel time-bound. Prolonged intoxication, impaired thinking, indefinable fears and loss of certain skills are some of the after-effects. The individual reaches a stage where he feels restless without alcohol consumption.

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Alcohol addictions facts influencing an individual’s alcohol use

IndividualSocialEarly influences

  • Key learning experiences and early life
  • Genetic makeup
  • Personality
  • Peer group influences
  • Family, parental drug use
  • Culture

Immediate antecedents

  • Expectations
  • Mood state
  • Withdrawal states
  • Social pressure/relationships
  • Availability
  • Demographic factors

Disposition to use alcohol-Alcohol use  Reinforcing consequencesAversive consequences

  • Mood elevation
  • Psychosocial facilitation
  • Relief of withdrawals
  • Toxic effects, illness
  • Psychosocial dysfunction

This write up will help family members and friends to identify the severity of alcohol use in their loved ones so that they can help them to realize that they are having a problem or may develop a problem and guide them to seek alcohol de-addiction treatment from professionals.

Is alcoholism hereditary?

Is alcoholism hereditary? Several studies have been conducted to find if alcoholism has genetic roots; however, it’s not confirmed yet. Experts have conducted twin and adoption studies to reach this goal. However, these studies conclude that genetics is not the sole reason for alcoholism. There are various external or environmental factors that together may lead to alcoholism. Let’s take a look at the factors that are known to cause alcoholism.

  • Family history: Studies have shown that alcoholism, in many cases, runs in the family. This does not mean that if parents are alcoholics, the child is bound to become an alcoholic. Parents do pass on genes to children but it cannot be said for sure that the child would turn out the same. What these studies show is; individuals who have a family history of alcoholism or if the first-degree relatives are alcoholics, are at a higher risk or have more chances of getting involved with alcoholism.
  • Availability: If an individual is exposed to alcohol from a very young age or grows up in an environment where alcohol is easily accessible, there is a high chance that he may get involved in alcoholism later in life. Some of the settings where drug use and violence are normal every-day scenarios may put an individual at risk to develop alcoholism.
  • Peer pressure: Peer pressure is a key factor responsible for alcoholism. An individual at the adolescence stage of their life is more vulnerable to get into unhealthy habits. And at this time their peer groups tend to be more influential than parents. If the peer insists the individual to get into addiction the individual, at this point, is more likely to get addicted compared to others who do not have such peer groups.
  • Individual characteristics: A person’s individual characteristics play a big role in determining that person’s behavior in the later part of their life. Studies have shown that individuals who had moderate temperament at an early age were more likely to be diagnosed with alcohol dependency later in life. When an individual is more impulsive, restless and distractible as a child, they are more likely to get involved in risky habits such as substance abuse.
  • Psychological factors: There are various psychological factors that make an individual vulnerable to alcoholism. Stress is one of the key psychological factors. When under stress an individual loses their self-esteem and often sorts to unhelpful coping strategies and the most common of them are sorting to drinking. Individuals who lack adequate coping strategies are also vulnerable to unhealthy coping such as drug abuse. Some individuals sort to drinking as a way to reduce anxiety while others drink their sorrows away.

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Why Cadabams?

Cadabams is widely trusted and recognized for its alcohol de-addiction rehab and care facilities. We ensure that our patients are treated with attention, love, care, and concern. We offer an exclusive range of solutions and treatments for stages of alcohol addiction recovery based on the condition and issues faced by an individual.

Call us on our helpline +91 96111 94949 for further details on getting alcohol de-addiction treatment.

Disclaimer – We strive to treat our patients with dignity and the utmost sensitivity. We understand that alcoholism is a disease and not a sign of weakness. The term alcoholic or alcoholism is used not in a derogatory fashion but to remain relevant to user search trends and common usage. In case you or a loved are struggling with alcoholism or you are caring for one, do share your unique viewpoint on how we can improve this content for our readers, please reach out to us at

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