The Stages of Alcoholism & Jellinek Curve Explained

Clear examples of progressive alcoholism include placing drinking ahead of their family, their job, or their education. Individuals in this stage may not be drinking every day or even every week. However, they still use alcohol frequently and can’t imagine a “good night out” without it. The more a person drinks, the more their body becomes dependent on ethanol to release these neurotransmitters instead of releasing them naturally.

Luckily, alcoholism treatment centers offer treatment plans that include each of these important tools. With the combination of professional alcoholism treatment and sobriety maintenance, recovery is possible for anyone. With so many effects on the body, the usual first step in treating alcoholism is detox—or getting alcohol out of your system. Depending on the severity of the alcohol use disorder, this stage can be mildly annoying or severe. Early withdrawal symptoms include headaches, anxiety, nausea, irritability and shaking. During this stage, your condition may become evident to friends and family, although some people can become highly adept at hiding problem drinking.

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This stage of alcoholism could present as typical, non-problematic drinking or high-functioning alcoholism. In terms of diagnostic criteria, individuals may display between 0 to 2 of the symptoms of alcohol use disorder. Physical dependence persists, and a person must drink to operate normally. Additionally, those dealing with advanced alcoholism may experience severe withdrawal symptoms that include hallucinations and seizures. In the stage of alcoholism, individuals may or may not be physically dependent on alcohol. In other words, they may or may not experience symptoms of withdrawal when they stop drinking.

The stages of alcoholism are a helpful tool to help determine the progression of alcoholism but they are by no means a rule. They outline the typical trajectory of alcoholism to reveal the steady decline from social to chronic alcohol use. The further someone’s drinking progresses, the easier it becomes to notice their lack of control. Middle-stage alcoholism is when their drinking problem reaches more serious levels.

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When most people drink to their tolerance level, they exhibit signs of intoxication. Those signs include slurring words, loss of balance and poor physical coordination. Early-stage alcoholism is the beginning of the person’s chronic use and pathway to abusing alcohol.

What are the 7 stages of alcohol?

  • Stage 1: Abstinence.
  • Stage 2: Initial Use.
  • Stage 3: High Risk Use.
  • Stage 4: Problematic Use.
  • Stage 5: Early Stage of Dependency.
  • Stage 6: Middle Stage of Dependency.
  • Stage 7: Crisis Stage of Dependency.

On the other hand, moderate drinkers will drink in order to relieve their negative emotions or “blow off steam”. In order to be in the second stage of alcoholism, an individual will have become a moderate drinker. Often times, people will develop a slight psychological dependence during this stage of alcoholism.

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Alcohol detox isn’t easy and not everyone can do it on their own. That is why alcohol detox and alcohol withdrawal treatment is administered by medical professionals. The next stage of alcoholism begins stages of alcoholism when an individual starts to become dependent on alcohol. At this point, the drinker depends on alcohol to feel “normal” and may experience negative symptoms or feelings when they are not drinking.

stages of alcoholism


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