The Cycle of Alcohol Addiction National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA

Drinking larger amounts and more often happens as well as drinking earlier in the day. The alcoholic is losing control over drinking, and the body is losing its ability to process alcohol like it did in the early stages of alcoholism. The alcoholic’s tolerance decreases as he or she becomes intoxicated more easily.

  • After ongoing heavy use, the body may develop a physical dependence.
  • This individualized treatment program provides adequate time for clients to work through behavioral problems, emotional issues, and any psychological trauma that has contributed to their addictive behaviors.
  • Once you quit drinking, your body can begin to recover from some of the damage or, at the very least, prevent it from getting worse.
  • The body can become distressed even when a person stops drinking for a short time.
  • Not every person will experience each stage and not everyone who consumes alcohol will develop alcohol use disorder (AUD).

The mental and physical health of alcoholics are rapidly deteriorating at this stage, and unless they seek alcohol rehab, they may drink themselves to death. If you or a loved one is living with alcoholic dementia, it can be extremely difficult to cope with—personally and for the family. Having a loved one with an alcohol addiction can be extremely difficult and heartbreaking.


Fluid buildup in end-stage liver disease is a particularly ominous sign. Fifty percent of patients with ascites typically die within two years if they don’t have a liver transplant. Alcoholics in this stage have a hard time controlling their drinking. They may begin drinking early in the day and plan their day around their drinking.

  • Only about 5 percent of patients with alcohol withdrawal progress to DTs, but about 5 percent of these patients die.
  • Those who suffer from this addiction are in constant danger of their drinking spiraling out of control, but it takes time and a cycle of behavior for them to reach this dangerous point.
  • Consuming no more than one or two drinks per day for healthy men and one drink per day for healthy non-pregnant women is generally considered acceptable alcohol consumption without health risks.
  • If left untreated over time it can also increase your chance for developing certain types of cancer such as lung cancer related to smoking habits that accompany excessive drinking behavior..
  • These drinkers prefer to spend time alone or with other alcoholics.
  • To others, the person may not look like they have a problem with alcohol.
  • Additionally, medications that are indicated for treating dementia, such as Namenda (memantine), may be prescribed, but the benefits are not established for alcoholic dementia.

For example, they can think and talk normally or walk a straight line with no problem. However, with continued alcohol consumption over time, the body begins to lose its ability to cope with high alcohol levels. As early alcoholics progress to higher levels of alcohol, their thinking, talking or walking functions deteriorate as soon as they stop drinking and their blood alcohol level decreases. When this starts happening, they are now moving into the next of the stage of alcoholism.

Alcohol Detox Maintenance Drugs

When you enter treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), it is important to understand the recommended stages of treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends that anyone seeking addiction treatment remain in the program for at least 90 days, or three months, to change behaviors around drugs or alcohol. It is also important for treatment programs to focus on effective treatment based on evidence, so there are specific stages that rehabilitation programs should offer. With advanced-stage alcohol misuse, a person’s body may feel as though it physically needs alcohol in order to function as it usually would. Repeated exposure to alcohol contributes to liver damage through several parallel processes.

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The alcohol has completely taken over your life and you’re not sure you could ever come back from it. It’s common to feel like you need alcohol just to get through the day and you may wake up with the shakes, which can only be calmed with a tall glass of an alcoholic beverage. At this point, life outside of alcohol feels empty and you’ve lost all interest 3 stages of alcoholism in the things you previously enjoyed doing. You’re suffering from anxiety, depression, and you can’t sleep unless you have a drink before bed. Your friends don’t talk to you anymore because you ran them all off after they confronted you about your drinking habits. You frequently isolate yourself and spend a lot of your time alone, drinking.

Coping With End-Stage Alcoholism

Speaking with a healthcare or mental health professional can be a positive first step. They can recommend treatment for AUD, which may include medications and behavioral therapies. In this stage, an individual can feel they have lost control over their alcohol consumption.

what are the 3 stages of alcoholism?

To properly treat the whole person and not just the addiction, Nova Recovery Center offers a long-term alcohol rehab program that lasts a full 90 days. This individualized treatment program provides adequate time for clients to work through behavioral problems, emotional issues, and any psychological trauma that has contributed to their addictive behaviors. As the alcohol rehab program comes to an end, clients are given personalized recommendations for ongoing treatment that will help them achieve their recovery goals and sustain their sobriety for years to come. As your physical, emotional, and mental health continue to worsen, you realize you have a problem but feel like it’s too late for you to get help.

What Are Some Risk Factors of Alcoholism?

With excessive alcohol consumption, this important organ can’t metabolize Vitamin D, which could develop into a deficiency. Some common signs and symptoms of cirrhosis include fatigue, itchy skin, weight loss, nausea, yellow eyes and skin, abdominal pain and swelling or bruising. As the primary site of alcohol metabolism, the liver is particularly vulnerable to damage from drinking.

Those who try to quit will often experience painful and overwhelming symptoms, and these withdrawal symptoms can even become life-threatening. Often times, these individuals may not even realize that they have a drinking problem either. Or, they may think that their drinking isn’t a big problem because they’re not getting drunk.