Alcoholism is a serious disease that worsens over time. There are four stages of alcoholism. In the first stage of the disease, someone begins using alcohol as a way to escape stress or bothersome problems. People who once only drank at social gatherings begin to spend time drinking on their own as a way to cope with life. During the first stage of alcoholism, the alcoholic builds up a tolerance to alcohol and needs to drink more alcohol than usual in order get a buzz. People gradually consume increased amounts of alcohol so that they can continue to get the same mind altering effects that they desire.
During the second stage of alcoholism, the alcoholic begins to lose control. They may be in control in certain situations, but there are times that they lose control and make poor decisions. For example, a person may not drink during work hours but may become so intoxicated at an office party that they risk losing their job. Second stage alcoholics begin to crave alcohol earlier in the day. They do not begin drinking to relieve stress or escape daily troubles; they now drink because they are dependent on alcohol.
A second stage alcoholic begins to experience a variety of physical symptoms including blackouts, digestive problems, hand tremors and consistent hangovers. During the second stage, other people will likely begin to notice that the individual has a drinking problem. The alcoholic may also begin to realize that they have a problem and become embarrassed by their behavior. Their embarrassment may lead them to make the decision to quit drinking but most alcoholics are unsuccessful unless they seek professional treatment.
During the third stage of alcoholism, the alcoholic loses even more control over their life and his or her world often begins to crumble down around them. The alcoholic cannot simply have a couple of drinks because at this point they are unable to stop drinking. Stage three alcoholics make many poor decisions that negatively affect their lives. They may use the money they need to pay bills on alcohol purchases and put alcohol before their relationships, education or career. They may drink and drive or participate in other illegal activities. Alcohol becomes the focus of the alcoholic’s life and the person may begin to avoid any family members, friends, social situations or activities that do not aid them in their quest to become intoxicated.
In the third stage, alcoholics may have a drink or two as soon as they wake up in the morning to reduce their withdrawal symptoms and cravings and to ease their remorseful feelings. During the latter stages of alcoholism, people often begin to neglect their appearance. They may not bother to brush their teeth, comb their hair, shower or change their clothes on a daily basis. Their homes are often dirty and neglected and they may forget to eat or drink water when their body needs it. Alcoholics may want to get help with their drinking problem but will be unable to do so without going through a good rehabilitation treatment program.
Once a person reaches the fourth stage of alcoholism, they have lost complete control over their life. By now, many alcoholics have lost their career, friends and perhaps even their family. They may be facing serious financial or legal problems. Third stage alcoholics are unable to function without alcohol. If they do not continue drinking throughout the day, they begin to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Fourth stage alcoholics are continuously intoxicated and may need someone to help them to eat, drink water and shower. They are no longer active members of society but live only to take their next drink. Stage four alcoholics cannot stop drinking without medical help because their withdrawal symptoms can become so severe that they can lead to death. If alcoholics do not seek help in the final stage, they will suffer from hallucinations, severe shakes, stomach problems, delirium tremens and eventually death.
It is better for alcoholics to seek rehabilitation treatment during the early stages of alcoholism. As the disease progresses it becomes increasingly difficult for a person to quit drinking because they face numerous health problems during the withdrawal period. Alcoholics should enter into rehab as early as possible to avoid health complications, job loss and relationship problems.