Alcoholism Stages

Stages of Alcoholism
Late Stages of Alcoholism
Alcoholism Final Stage

The Three Alcoholism Stages
There are three stages of alcoholism, getting help before the late stages of alcoholism raises the possibility of a positive outcome

From the outside an addiction to drink seems messy and unpredictable. In fact it is possible to see three distinct alcoholism stages.

alcoholism stages

Speak with an Addiction Specialist

Call 877-322-2694

24/7 Helpline

FREE Expert Advice -  Confidentially guaranteed 

When someone is in the midst of alcoholism it is difficult to know when the drinking got out of control.

But a quick review of the person's drinking life will usually reveal three distinct alcoholism stages to their addiction - starting with the first signs of alcoholism and concluding with end stage alcoholism.

Most, if not all alcoholics, progress through the three stages of alcoholism. The Johns Hopkins Test for alcoholism is effective at identifying which of the three alcoholism stages the drink dependent is at.

Having said that it is not really important to know exactly which alcoholism stage someone is at. What is important is that the drink dependent person gets help as early as possible.

The time it takes to progress from one phase to the next varies from one individual to the other. Generally it takes 15 years to go from early to alcoholism final stage.

It is important to note that these stages do not occur separately, they overlap and combine.

Life, and particularly alcoholism, isn't neat.

Think you might have a problem with drinking? Would you like a free online assessment of your drinking? Fill out this questionnaire and schedule a consultation now.

The Early/Adaptive Stage

The first signs of alcoholism become apparent at this stage.

Drinking is no longer social.

The individual drinks as a way to deal with their emotional problems or to make themselves feel better.

As they drink more so their tolerance increases and they can drink lots more than their 'normal' drinking friends.

Many at this alcoholism stage are able to drink a lot and not appear drunk at all.

Often those in the first stage do not get hangovers.

Physically there are no outward problems- at least not for now.

The drinker in this first stage is usually a functional alcoholic. This means they manage to hold down their job, any relationships they have and continue with interests and hobbies. Although, a lot of the time they may well be lying about the quantity they are drinking and how often.

The individual is usually not aware that they have a problem at this stage- they are in alcoholic denial.

The Middle Stage

In this stage of alcoholism the person starts to act and seem more like the stereotypical drunk.

They now lose control of their drinking. Starting earlier in the day and drinking alone become normal.

Their drinking companions, if there are any, are fellow alcohol abusers.

There is no longer any joy in drinking only pain and misery. Feelings that the alcoholic manages by drinking more. A vicious circle.

It is a terrible state to be in.

The craving becomes more intense and practically impossible to control. Part of the reason for this is that the individual's body has become so attuned to drink that it can't manage without it.

If the body can't get alcohol it reacts alcohol withdrawals result in the addict suffering from intense anxiety, sweating, shaking, hallucinating and a whole lot more. There is no respite except for a drink.

Alcoholic blackouts also occur. Large periods of time pass which the individual can't remember. The brain, riddled with alcohol, fails to record experiences. Anything and everything can occur during these periods- there are stories of people taking cross country road trips, having business meetings etc. and not recalling anything.

Alcohol related health problem also begin appear at this stage of alcoholism. Alcoholic gastritis, bad hangovers etc. become more common

Whereas in the adaptive stage the individual managed to perform in his job and maintain relationships, now it all begins to unravel. They get into trouble at work and at home.

The alcoholic is now on the edge of a precipice, if they don't get help soon they will fall and things will get a whole lot worse.

Final Stage Alcoholism/Alcoholism Final Stage

It is called end stage alcoholism because it is the end. Either the end of the life of the person or the end of their drinking days.

Although a life-threatening condition, end-stage alcoholism can be treated, read Treating Advanced Alcoholism for more details.

If they do not stop drinking soon they will die. It's as simple as that.

The final stages of alcoholism are not pretty.

For the sufferer and those living with the alcoholic or witnessing his or her decline.

In the late stages of alcoholism, the individual's body has been poisoned to such an extent that it is suffering. There are many physical problems that can appear at this stage such as heart disease, fatty liver, cirrhosis of the liver, alcoholic hepatitis, pancreatitis, malnutrition, brain damage and so on.

All of these are SERIOUS, if not life-threatening conditions.

Vitamin deficiency, particularly in B-1, can also cause many other problems

Not only are there physical problems but mental too. The individual will, at this stage, be suffering from delusions, is mentally confused and perhaps psychotic. In short, very unwell.

Relationships have, in most cases been irreparably damaged. Jobs have been lost. Drinking is now the sole focus of the individual- nothing else matters. All other needs are ignored- food, shelter, warmth, water etc.

Astonishingly, many people at this stage are still in denial about their condition. They still blame everything for their problems except alcohol.

Our E-zine, The Alcoholism Guide Newsletter will keep you up to date with the latest in the world of alcohol dependency treatment as well as keeping you up to date with this site. To receive your FREE copy please fill in the form below:

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you The Alcoholism Guide Newsletter.

Free Expert Advice Available Now

  • Speak with an addiction specialist 24/7
  • Confidentially guaranteed
  • Discuss your treatment options


Free Expert Advice Available Now

  • Speak with an addiction specialist 24/7
  • Confidentially guaranteed
  • Discuss your treatment options


The Fourth Alcoholism Stage?

There is no fourth stage because we are at the end of the road for the alcoholic- death is the most likely outcome unless help is asked for. Unfortunately, in most cases, the only person who can ask for it doesn't think they have a problem.

If you found this page helpful, then the following may be of interest to you:

Return from Alcoholism Stages to What is Alcoholism

Return from Alcoholism Stages to Alcoholism Help Homepage

Speak with an Addiction Specialist

Call 877-322-2694

24/7 Helpline

FREE Expert Advice -  Confidentially guaranteed 

Alcoholism Help Homepage | What is Alcoholism | Signs of Alcoholism | Alcoholism Tests | Alcohol Abuse Effects | Living with an Addict | Alcoholism Recovery | The AA Way| Alcoholism Cure| Alcoholism Medication | My Story | Alcoholism Guide Blog | Contact Us | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Living With An Alcoholic?
Family Resources
alcoholic anonymous meetings

Free Ebooks

The Guide To Free And Affordable Rehab
free alcohol rehab

Want To Read About The Myths That Maintain AA's Dominance Of The Alcoholism Recovery Industry?

Download our FREE E-report:

Why You Might Want To Look For Another Way"

alt text

Alcoholism Help Resources

Cure For Alcoholism

Alcoholism Self-Help Resources
alcoholism self help

test for alcoholism
Am I an Alcoholic?
Assess your drinking now!

contact us alcoholism

Got a Question about Alcoholism?
Click on the above Image to Contact Us

Self-Help Book