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

Some of these conditions can impair a person’s ability to process and remember day-to-day information. Daily drinking can have serious consequences for a person’s health, both in the short- and long-term. Many of the effects of drinking every day can be reversed 5 stages of alcoholism through early intervention. That is why alcohol detox and alcohol withdrawal treatment is administered by medical professionals. As alcoholism progresses, the cells in the body become more and more resistant to the short-term effects of alcohol.

  • Alcoholism is a term that is sometimes used to describe what is known as an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
  • That said, there are four general stages of recovery, as compiled by addiction expert Steven M. Melemis, MD.
  • After ongoing heavy use, the body may develop a physical dependence in middle-stage alcoholism, where they’ll experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking.

Changes in areas responsible for motivation, reinforcement, and emotion processing can lead to a diminished ability to experience pleasure, thereby perpetuating the cycle of addiction. However, with evidence-based treatments, individuals can work towards reversing some of the damage, developing healthier coping mechanisms, and ultimately, achieving recovery. Increased tolerance levels also increase the chances that one will binge-drink, so binge-drinking symptoms can also occur at this stage of alcohol addiction. A person at this stage is still said to be a moderate drinker and may only tick three or four of the aforementioned DSM-5 criteria. To avoid this degeneration to chronic ethanol abuse, one of the important things to know is when to stop.

Helpful Resources for Families and Loved Ones

Calls to our general hotline may be answered by private treatment providers. We may be paid a fee for marketing or advertising by organizations that can assist with treating people with substance use disorders. In fact, these young people can be more prone to developing an alcohol use disorder as they have not reached an age of maturity where decision-making is thorough and well-developed. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 17 million American adults have alcohol use disorders, and another 855,000 people (aged 12 to 17 years old) live with the same. During end-stage alcoholism, a person may struggle with involuntary rapid eye movement (nystagmus) or weakness and paralysis of the eye muscles due to thiamin (vitamin B1) deficiency.

Those in the end stage of alcoholism, or late or deteriorative stage, are consumed by their drinking. Years of chronic alcohol consumption have ravaged their body and mind, and their lives revolve around little else other than the bottle. These physiological changes contribute to the increasing tolerance seen in early-stage alcoholics. Despite heavy alcohol consumption, they may show few signs of intoxication or ill effects from drinking, such as a hangover. And as tolerance builds, they’ll begin to drink more and more to achieve the same buzz or high they’re used to.

What Are The Five Stages of Alcohol Addiction?

In early-stage alcoholism, family members may notice changes in their loved one’s behavior or mood swings when they drink. They may begin to feel like they are walking on eggshells around them or questioning whether they should confront them about their drinking. Seeking professional help for alcohol addiction can also provide individuals with a safe and supportive environment in which to recover.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. The DSM is the latest attempt by doctors to understand and diagnose this disorder. The severity of the AUD depends on how many of the symptoms they have. A hit on six or more questions can be considered a severe case of AUD.