Alcohol, while widely socially acceptable and legal to both consume and purchase, is one of the most dangerous substances on earth. But, because of its wide acceptance and use, many people may not identify alcoholism in their own lives. Additionally, due to the stigma that alcoholics are homeless and jobless, many may not know they struggle with alcoholism when, in fact, they do. However, educating individuals about the stages and symptoms of alcoholism can help people understand their addictive behaviors. And lead them to acceptance of the fact that they need support to heal and move past addiction and its effects.
Another reason why many individuals may not identify alcoholism in their own lives is due to the high number of alcohol users in the world. People may think that because their friends and family drink as well, they couldn’t have an issue with this substance. But, just because the use of alcohol is widespread, it doesn’t mean that alcoholism is easily avoidable. In fact, according to a study conducted by JAMA Psychiatry, 1 in every 8 American adults struggle with alcohol use disorder. So, whether individuals believe they struggle with alcoholism or not, it is a nationwide dilemma that affects millions of individuals and families each and every day.
Alcoholism is another word for an addiction to alcohol. When people begin drinking alcohol, they don’t expect their drinking to lead to alcoholism. However, with continued use, individuals may start to develop tolerance, which results in needing to drink more to feel the desired effects. After tolerance increases, individuals may develop a dependence on alcohol, which is characterized by changes in the chemistry of the brain. Alcohol dependence is identified by a need to consume alcohol, negative emotions while not drinking alcohol, and the inability to stop drinking alcohol.
Some other signs of alcohol dependence and alcoholism may include:
Many people don’t know that there are actually three stages of alcoholism. Basically, these stages mark the progression of this disease. And, are characterized by specific symptoms which occur throughout the addiction cycle. The stages of alcoholism include:
Early: The first stage of alcoholism is rather challenging to identify because individuals may not be experiencing negative consequences yet. During this stage, tolerance develops, which means that a person’s body is beginning to react to the amount of alcohol being consumed. So, they need more alcohol to experience the effects they’re seeking. Some of the signs of this stage of alcoholism may include drinking more than usual, neglecting obligations, and drinking more often.
Middle: This second stage of alcoholism marks the development of both physical and psychological dependence. This means that when these individuals stop drinking or don’t drink, they’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. And, experience extreme cravings for alcohol.
Late: Finally, the last stage of alcoholism is when individuals begin to experience the life-changing, full, negative effects of addiction. These can include divorce, job termination, family issues, and isolating behaviors. Additionally, during this stage of alcoholism, individuals may begin to experience various physical effects of alcoholism. Some physical symptoms of alcoholism may include cirrhosis of the liver, respiratory issues, hepatitis, and pancreatitis.
If you experience any of the above symptoms of alcoholism or you recognize that you may be in any of the stages of alcoholism, there is hope for you. While millions of individuals struggle with alcoholism, many of them do get help through treatment. And develop healthy lifestyles in recovery free from the negative effects of alcoholism.
First, you need to accept that you need help. Then, you can begin to consider all of your options for treatment and choose the one that best suits your needs. The beginning phase of treatment for alcoholism is detox. Detox is the process of removing alcohol from the body and experiencing withdrawal. However, there are a few types of detoxes to consider.
Here at Diablo Valley Drug & Alcohol Services, we provide outpatient, medical detox for individuals struggling with alcoholism. This way, individuals can get the help they need without having to put work or school responsibilities on hold. Furthermore, medical detox provides management medications so that withdrawal symptoms and cravings are drastically reduced. If you’re looking for a detox program with your needs in mind, contact us today to learn more.