What Are the Stages of Alcoholism?

woman holding her head on the couch going through the Stages of Alcoholism

Stages of Alcoholism

No one wakes up one day after drinking a single drink and becomes an alcoholic. It takes time for your body to develop a dependence on the chemicals in alcohol. Over the course of months, years, or even decades, alcoholics find that their relationship with alcohol becomes progressively more addictive. They might start off as light drinkers who occasionally have a binge here or there. In the last stages of alcoholism, they need to have alcohol in their systems as much as possible.

Alcohol detox programs are the safest way to rid the body of alcohol at this point. Please reach out for help if you or a loved one struggles with alcohol abuse.


The first of the stages of alcoholism starts out innocently enough. This can occur when you first encounter alcohol. For many people, this stage happens at underage high school parties or when they go off to college. One of the problematic behaviors with the experimentation phase is binge drinking. If you don’t know how alcohol is going to impact you, or have little overall knowledge about alcohol, then it’s easy to drink far more than you should.

Drinking in Higher Quantities and More Often

Over time, you may find yourself needing to drink more and more in order to get drunk. Some people boast about their high alcohol tolerance, but this can be a sign that problematic drinking is actually occurring. Instead of drinking occasionally, you find yourself taking every opportunity to grab a drink. Your social calendar centers around drinking and being at venues that serve alcohol. Other obligations fall to the wayside.

Experiencing Negative Consequences as the Stages of Alcoholism Progress

You can progress to the point where alcohol starts getting in the way of your everyday life. As you progress into alcoholism, you’ll start to have physical, mental, and emotional side effects due to drinking alcohol.

Your sleep schedule could become sporadic, as it’s difficult to get good quality sleep while drinking heavily. While you might stay in bed for the normal amount of hours needed to be refreshed, you don’t end up feeling great due to being hungover or not being able to achieve restful sleep.

You may have problems with controlling your emotions and responses to everyday situations, and your social life could end up falling off. Another possibility is that you end up with a friend circle that only focuses on drinking, rather than long-term relationships that you have built up over the years.

Physical and Psychological Effects of Alcohol Addiction

The final of the stages of alcoholism occurs when you become physically and mentally dependent on having alcohol in your system. This addiction takes over your life and you don’t have a choice to go without alcohol. If you do, you end up experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms quickly.

You may switch from beer to wine or hard liquor or stick to a signature drink. Since your body is so used to having alcohol in it, you’ll need to drink progressively larger amounts to get drunk. If someone tries to get between you and access to your liquor, you may become argumentative or even violent.

You could form a belief that you’re not able to do daily activities without having alcohol on hand. It may be a crutch used to boost your confidence or to get you through difficult situations. Either way, you’re not able to mentally resist it either.

Getting Help During Any Stage of Alcoholism

Alcohol might be a socially accepted substance, but that doesn’t mean that addiction isn’t a serious issue. The stages of alcoholism could lead to fatal consequences for an alcoholic and their loved ones. It’s important to get help, and alcohol addiction recovery programs are in place to assist you through:

Contact Summit Detox by calling (888) 995-5265 to stop the stages of alcoholism before they cause long-term damage.

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