The first step in fixing a problem is recognizing and admitting there is one. For many people that can be difficult. Some people are unable to admit this, even if all the signs are there. Often it comes to friends and family, those closest to us to recognize when something is truly amiss and that help is needed. Hearing an objective third party identify can help those who struggle to reconcile the fact that there is a problem. To do that, they need to know the signs of alcoholism.
If you’re worried about a loved one and their substance use, speak with them! You don’t have to be certain that there is a problem – that you are worried is reason enough!
Stages and Signs of Alcoholism
The Five Stages of Alcoholism
Alcoholism develops over five stages. For many people, they may have experienced Stage One without the alcoholism developing further. For others, and those with addictive tendencies, it is a slippery slope from one to five.
Stage One – Occasional Abuse and Binge Drinking
As mentioned, many people reach this stage when they first begin experimenting with alcohol. Binge drinking is drinking in large quantities, they may not drink regularly, but when they do they over-consume. To put a hard number on it, binge drinking looks like:
- For men, it’s more than five drinks in under two hours
- For women, it’s four or more drinks in under two hours
These are the minimum, often when people engage in binge drinking behaviors it’s more than this. Drinking in these kinds of quantities is dangerous. Alcohol poisoning is a very real thing and it can happen to people even if it’s their first-time binge-drinking.
Stage Two – Increased Drinking
Stage two is when binge drinking becomes more frequent. It may be binge drinking every weekend or every time they drink. The drinking becomes regular, which is different from moderate drinking. Those who drink moderately may pair a glass of wine with a meal, but those who are in stage two the drinking is tied to some emotional goal, to ‘feel good.’
Stage Three – Problem Drinking
Any alcohol abuse is a problem, but problem drinker refers to anyone who is beginning to experience the impacts elsewhere in their life. It might be bad sleep, anxiety, depression. Social problems also crop up such as:
- relationship issues
- decreased social activity due to erratic behavior
- sudden change in friends
- difficulty conversing with strangers
Stage Four – Dependence
Dependence forms after the problem drinking stage. Drinkers now have an attachment to alcohol that supersedes their normal routine. They know the negative effects, but they no longer have any control over their drinking.
At this stage the body has developed a tolerance to the drinking, leading the drinker to have to consume larger and larger quantities to feel the effects.
Stage Five – Addiction and Alcoholism
Addiction is the final stage of alcoholism. At this point, the alcoholic no longer is drinking for pleasure but because of a physical and psychological need to drink.
Because they have developed an increased tolerance for alcohol, people may experiment and become addicted to other drugs as they search for that high.
If you are concerned about a loved one perhaps dealing with alcoholism, look for these signs.
Signs of Alcoholism
- The individual experiences increased tolerance for alcohol. This means that they have to drink more in order to get the same effects.
- The alcoholic has a strong compulsion to drink.
- They will often drink more than they intended to.
- They are likely to experience blackouts. This refers to a type of amnesia that people can experience when they drink too much.
- They may try to hide the extent of their drinking.
- Drinking alone.
- They will experience withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to significantly reduce or quit alcohol.
- The individual deliberately sets out to become intoxicated.
- Feelings of guilt about their drinking.
- They will become irritable if there is no alcohol available at a time when they would normally drink.
- Lack of interest in activities that do not involve alcohol.
- Drinking alcohol before going to a party.
- Hiding alcohol around the home.
- The individual continues to drink even when alcohol is causing problems in their life.
- The alcoholic will repeatedly neglect their responsibilities because of alcohol.
- This individual struggles to reduce their alcohol intake.
- They feel uncomfortable if they do not have access to alcohol.
- Legal problems as a result of drinking.
- Financial problems as a result of drinking.
- Relationship problems as a result of drinking.
If you see any of these signs, reach out to your loved one about their problem and support them in seeking treatment. You can also get in touch with us here at Direct2Recovery to find out more about the treatment options available! We want to help everyone who needs it recover