The Stages Of Alcoholism & Jellinek Curve Explained

Live-in or inpatient treatment involves an extended stay at a sober treatment facility with 24-hour support. The length of stay and program services are catered to individual needs. The pre alcoholic stage, early alcoholic stage, and middle alcoholic stage could be considered steps on the path to Alcohol Use Disorder. During these stages many people are able to attend to their relationships and responsibilities, but those who are on this path will become increasingly unable to live happy and fulfilling lives. These programs typically last 30, 60, or 90 days, sometimes longer.

Alcohol abuse has damaged the individual’s relationships, leading to isolation. Alcoholism is a chronic and progressive disease that affects millions of Americans daily. In fact, about 5.3% of the population suffers from an alcohol use disorder. People who struggle with alcohol use often benefit from the support of others who have been through the same thing.

Stages of Alcoholism

Even if they never progress past this stage, regular binge drinking is not a healthy way to consume alcohol. People in the pre-alcoholic stage may enjoy drinking more frequently than those around them but it isn’t overtly noticeable in most people. People who struggle to control their consumption have likely existed for as long as alcohol has been around.

Stage #2: Loss Of Control

The next stage is the prodromal stage, which is when drinking is no longer just a way to socialize. At this stage, you may be drinking to the point of passing out, engaging in reckless activities, or hiding your drinking habits from others. Let’s take a look at the stages of AUD as well as treatment for alcoholism. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, Nexus can help. Understanding all the nuances of treatment is why a person should consider it worth the time and effort of a program. It is not a weakness to get assistance because substance use disorder is a complex issue. There is no test you can take with the question, “Do I have alcohol use disorder?

  • You can quickly and privately check your insurance benefits to see if you’re covered for addiction treatment services.
  • One of the biggest concerns with risky drinkers is when they don’t think they have a problem.
  • People in middle alcoholism get better at masking their drinking and give excuses for their behavior.
  • Alcoholism occurs once a person is mentally and physically addicted.

When your partner’s alcohol use begins to affect your relationship, you may not know how to best offer support. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders states anyone who meets 2 of the 11 following criteria within a 12-month period may be diagnosed with an AUD. Here are some questions to consider to accurately assess whether you or a loved one may be suffering from a problem with alcohol. If you cut into it, you may also notice that it smells like wine or beer on the inside. This is because the sugars in the pineapple have started to convert into alcohol in a biological process known as fermentation.

Before The First Stage

Once cirrhosis is established, if these procedures are not enough, a liver transplant becomes the only option and is not guaranteed even with full abstinence, due to transplant supply/demands. Sadness, boredom, or loneliness also become excuses to drink, rather than seeking out other activities. The first time someone uses alcohol could be when they are still a child—or over the legal age of 21. Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.

  • At Iris Healing, we offer a free and confidential verification of benefits with no commitment required.
  • Anyone who suffers from an addiction to alcohol, clinically known as alcohol use disorder , most likely developed the affliction over the course of months or years.
  • With three weekly group sessions available, clients can remain connected to the recovery process.

Drinking occurring all day and, in all situations, even if it is not appropriate appears in this stage. During this stage, alcohol has taken a toll on life and health. People at this stage are unable to quit drinking without experiencing significant withdrawal symptoms, including seizures, severe depression, and panic attacks.


You do not necessarily have to drink every day to be an alcoholic, but that also doesn’t mean your drinking habits aren’t a cause for concern. As others begin to realize you may have a drinking problem, you start to realize it too, although you may still be in denial. You begin hiding your drinking habits from friends and family members, spiking your coffee or soda, hiding empty bottles throughout your home, and lying about your whereabouts when you’re out drinking. In this stage, you’re gradually becoming more accustomed to drinking larger amounts of alcohol with little to no effect. You can still function well enough, despite your heavy drinking, and you become more and more focused on getting that next drink.

Stages of Alcoholism

Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections–even up to 24 hours after getting drunk. Severe abdominal pain and persistent diarrhea, as a result, is not fixable. The affects can range from dementia and intellectual functioning to debilitating conditions that require long-term care, even if a person has been sober for a period of time. Once stabilized, the goal is to transition from detox, to treatment, to maintenance , to transcendence—the final step in the path to recovery. Virtual Outpatient Addiction Treatment Learn more about Hazelden Betty Ford’s multiple levels of virtual outpatient addiction treatment. It mimics certain chemicals, GABA and glutamate, that the brain naturally produces and are required for proper functioning. The former causes people to relax while the latter is excitatory and makes them more active.

Take The First Step To A New Life

It is also possible that they have noticed that a few drinks can take the edge off at the end of a difficult day. Possibly the person struggles with the anxiety of social situations and has realized that alcohol calms their nerves and makes them smile more and laugh more easily. This stage also includes binge drinking, which consists of consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period. A common sign of early symptoms of alcohol abuse, research suggests that 26.9% of adults in the United States have reported binge drinking in the last month. During the middle stage of alcohol addiction, negative consequences start to pile up.

Despite the appearance of these symptoms, the person still has some control over their drinking behavior. Live-at-home or outpatient treatment allows the person to continue to live in the comfort of his or her own home and work or go to school while attending regular, weekly treatment sessions at a facility. This treatment option is generally less expensive than inpatient programs. Those enrolled in outpatient programs will benefit from having a strong support system at home. Phil was recently fired from his job because his boss smelled liquor on his breath.

With the combination of professional alcoholism treatment and sobriety maintenance, recovery is possible for anyone. People who reach this stage completely lose control over their alcohol consumption. This can sound frightening, but there is help available every step of the way. Attempts may have been made to cut down, but priorities will have changed to enable drinking, causing the adverse effects to trickle into everyday life, affecting finances, relationships, and employment.


If a person makes a habit of drinking to excess on a regular basis, their body and mind begin to adjust, leaving them in danger of a rapid progression of alcohol use. When a woman consumes about four standard alcoholic drinks within a two-hour period, or a man drinks five drinks in the same period, that is considered binge drinking. Memory blackouts occur when alcohol shuts down the area of the brain responsible for making memories, leading to periods of time the person doesn’t remember. If a person enjoys the feeling of rapidly getting drunk, or tries to get drunk as quickly as possible, this may indicate the start of a deeper issue. This stage of alcohol use is much easier to spot than the first stage.

  • Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed…
  • The DSM is the latest attempt by doctors to understand and diagnose this disorder.
  • A doctor will not diagnose someone as an “alcoholic”, but instead will say they have an alcohol use disorder and determine its severity based on the criteria listed above.
  • At this point, the drinker depends on alcohol to feel “normal” and may experience negative symptoms or feelings when they are not drinking.
  • Not all early symptoms of alcoholism are life-threatening but can still be a cause for concern.

While there were many people who struggled with controlling their drinking habits, no one had yet taken the time to explore why and how issues with alcohol use began and progressed. It was widely believed that anyone who suffered from “alcoholism” did so because of a lack of willpower or a moral failing.

Occasional Abuse & Binge Drinking

It sounds strange when you ask the question out loud, but, like many things in life, alcoholism is not simply a black and white issue. Being at a later stage can make recovery more challenging, but recovery is possible at any stage of alcoholism. There are no quick fixes to addiction, and alcoholism is no different.

Late Stage: Severe Alcohol Use And Addiction

Another consequence is the risk to their overall health as the organs shut down. The next stage of alcoholism begins when alcohol consumption becomes more frequent. These individuals may start to develop Stages of Alcoholism an emotional attachment to drinking. This more an individual turns to alcohol to “feel good”, the more at risk they are of developing an alcohol use disorder and potentially needing alcohol treatment.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism , heavy alcohol use is defined as more than 4 drinks on any day for men or more than 3 drinks for women. 7, 8 Glatt’s model is generally used to describe the spiritual growth aspect of Alcoholics Anonymous . Early into the study of alcohol abuse, a theory was proposed that described the decline into full-blown alcoholism. This theory divides the progression of alcohol addiction into 4 stages. The theory is widely recognized in the treatment of alcohol abuse.

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