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Stages of Alcoholism

Stages of Alcoholism



Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance creating serious medical, social & psychological problems. Likewise, we do have different stages of alcoholism.

Stages of Alcoholism

What is alcohol addictions 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 and
  4. Damage to physical health or social standing resulting from sustained alcohol abuse.

Valliant has conceptualized 3 stages of alcoholism

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

The asymptomatic drinker may be a heavy drinker but has not year suffered the adverse consequences of drinking. This stage may continue without change over many years, but it may evolve into alcohol abuse.  The essential feature of alcohol abuse is a pattern of pathologic alcohol use for a least a month that causes impairment in social or occupational function along with medical consequences.

Stages of Alcoholism

One-third of alcohol abusers do not evolve further as in one-third return to asymptomatic drinking and about 1/3 rd 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

Stages of Alcoholism

  1. Pre alcoholic symptomatic phase: taking advantage of social sanction, an individual starts drinking to reduce tensions and solve problems. Linking drinking with relief he keeps on searching for those opportunities in which he may drink. The frequency of drinking increases as he starts losing his capacity to overcome conflicts of life.
  2. Prodigal phase: In this phase, there is an increase in both the frequency of drinking and the quality of the drink. However, the person-develops a guilt feeling and knows that gradually he is becoming an abnormal person.
  3. Crucial phase: In this phase, drinking becomes conspicuous. A patient develops rationalization to stand social pressure and to assure him that he has not lost control over himself. Gradually he starts alienating himself from others as his physical and social deterioration becomes obvious to them.
  4. Chronic. Phase: Patient starts drinking even in the morning. He faces prolonged intoxication, impaired thinking, indefinable fears and loss of certain skills. He is all the time obsessed with drinking and feels restless without alcohol.

Alcohol addictions facts influencing an individual’s alcohol use

Stages of Alcoholism

Individual Social
Early influences
  • Key learning experiences and early life
  • Genetic make up
  • 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 consequences Aversive 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.

Stages of Alcoholism

Alcohol addiction treatment

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