Stages Of Alcohol Addiction & Detox

By Shim Stregosky - Midwest Detox

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Alcohol is a legal substance. As such, its consumption often begins very innocently. A night out with friends and having a drink or two is just having fun after all. However, as with all addictive substances, alcohol intake can lead down a very dangerous and slippery slope.

Without controlling the amount consumed and the frequency at which it’s consumed, what began as casual drinking can quickly lead to a full-blown addiction. Understanding the stages of this progression is extremely important in order to prevent it from happening and to be able to seek treatment before the addiction progresses too far.

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    The Stages Of Alcoholism

    No one becomes an alcoholic overnight. There are various stages in the progression of alcohol addiction. What’s concerning is that it’s often not recognized until someone is in the mid to later stages, particularly because alcohol consumption is so widespread and popular. It is therefore imperative to understand the stages of alcoholism and the key signs to look out for.

    Early Stage Alcoholism

    Early stage alcoholism begins when the drinker starts to build up a tolerance to alcohol. As such, they start requiring more drinks in order to achieve the same level of intoxication. During this early stage, people will often not realize they have a problem because they are not yet feeling any withdrawal symptoms. Their bodies are still able to function properly while they are not drinking without any negative side effects.

    As such, it is often difficult to detect the signs of early stage alcoholism. Both the drinker themselves and those around them may be unaware of the developing problem. However, there are still notable symptoms to look out for. These include drinking at least once a week until intoxicated because they are unable to control the amount consumed once they have started drinking, binge drinking, an increased tolerance for alcohol, and occasional blackouts.

    During this stage, the drinker may begin to realize that they turn to alcohol as a way of dealing with negative feelings or high stress levels. They may even try to cut down on their drinking by limiting the amount of alcohol consumed in a single sitting. However, they will find themselves unsuccessful in their attempts.

    Middle Stage Alcoholism

    During the next stage, middle stage alcoholism, the drinker will firmly establish a physical dependence on alcohol. They will now require significantly larger amounts of alcohol to achieve the same levels of intoxication they previously experienced. Without it, they will begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms. These include anxiety, agitation, and increased heart rate. They may be nauseous, have sweaty or clammy skin, and a reduced appetite.

    During this stage, the person may be able to keep up appearances at work, but friends and family members will begin to notice the effects of these withdrawal symptoms. As their drinking progresses, they will start neglecting both personal and professional responsibilities because their primary focus will always be on their next drink.

    Late Stage Alcoholism

    As middle stage alcoholism progresses, it can lead to late stage alcoholism. At this point, the drinker has become so dependent on alcohol that they cannot function without a drink. Symptoms include extremely high tolerance levels, total lack of control over their consumption, a complete preoccupation with alcohol, risky behaviors, and total neglect of all responsibilities.

    The addict is so consumed by their need to drink that everything else in their life falls by the wayside. They will suffer from financial difficulties, often because they have lost their job due to poor performance. They will be isolated from their previous social lives as they are no longer able to interact with people in a healthy way. Their health and personal hygiene will plummet as their sole focus is drinking. Additionally, alcohol withdrawal symptoms will increase in severity.

    End Stage Alcoholism

    The last and final stage in the progression of alcoholism is end stage alcoholism. Left with life-threatening health problems and no social life, the drinker suffers from damaged organs and decreased brain function. Hospice care is often the only answer at this chronic stage of alcoholism.

    Stages Of Alcohol Detox

    The earlier you get help with your drinking problem, the easier the recovery will be. However, one should never feel like it is too late to seek treatment. With the proper care, it is entirely possible to recover from almost all stages of alcoholism. The exception would be end stage alcoholism, and even then, recovery is not impossible.

    While it may seem daunting to achieve sobriety, understanding the alcohol detox stages can help you feel prepared. Knowledge of what lies before you can be extremely helpful. It is important to note that no two individuals experience the exact same stages of alcohol detox, but their alcohol withdrawal timeline will be similar.

    Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

    Six to twelve hours after their last drink, the addict will begin to experience their first withdrawal symptoms. These are Stage 1 symptoms and are considered to be relatively mild. Symptoms include headaches, anxiety, insomnia, and gastrointestinal problems. Within 24 hours, they will enter Stage 2. During this stage, the symptoms experienced in the prior stage will increase in severity and new symptoms will appear, including increased blood pressure and heart rate, confusion, and elevated temperature.

    Left unchecked, the addict can quickly progress from Stage 2 to Stage 3. Symptoms will become even more severe and will generally peak between 24 to 72 hours after their last drink. Depending on the addict’s drinking history, both the quantity of alcohol consumed and the frequency of their intake, individual timelines may vary. Stage 3 is when the addict is at risk for seizures, hallucinations, and delirium tremens. After 72 hours, withdrawal symptoms will slowly begin to subside.

    How To Avoid Relapse After Detox

    Detoxing is the first step in recovery from alcohol addiction. In order to avoid relapsing, it is important to diligently continue your recovery work. Depending on the addict’s level of alcoholism, this may mean inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, therapy work, support meetings, or a combination of all of the above.

    The key to preventing relapse is recognizing and understanding one’s triggers. Identifying what caused you to drink in the first place will help you develop healthy coping mechanisms that you can use to replace drinking. However, it is imperative to understand that this work cannot be done alone and requires the assistance of professionals. Asking for help is not a weakness. Rather, it shows courage, strength, and resolve.

    Detox Safely From Alcohol With Midwest Detox

    At Midwest Detox, we understand how daunting the journey to sobriety may seem. Our professionally trained and accredited team of addiction professionals will be by your side throughout the entire detox process. We treat every patient with the respect and dignity they deserve through the recovery journey they have courageously embarked upon.

    Providing superior levels of care, our luxurious detox center aims to offer a safe and comfortable setting for patients to detox from alcohol. Our medical staff carefully monitors each patient around the clock, diligently screening their withdrawal symptoms and administering medication as needed to make them as comfortable as possible. Recovery is hard enough, at Midwest Detox it is our aim to alleviate the suffering so often associated with the detox process.

    Are you in need of a private drug and alcohol detox center to begin your recovery? If so, Midwest Detox can provide everything you need to detox in a safe, comfortable environment. Visit our site or call us directly at 414-409-5200 to take the first step toward sobriety.