Alcoholism is a progressive disease that has been described by various stages and steps. The number may vary depending on the source referenced. In addition, since no two people are alike, progression through one phase may take more or less time depending on the person. One individual may exhibit different physical symptoms or emotional responses than another. Although there may be slight variations, most who are involved with the care and treatment of alcoholics agree that alcoholism progresses in relatively predictable stages. It may begin with what seems to be nothing more than socializing and proceeds through middle stages where symptoms and problems become more obvious. The end stages of alcoholism are marked by physiological dependence, debilitation and loss of control.
In the beginning stages of alcoholism, the individual has not consumed alcohol. Therefore, they exhibit no signs of abuse. Those who develop drug or alcohol dependencies often display other types of addictive behavior prior to becoming an alcoholic. As alcohol consumption begins, there is no alcoholic behavior observed. Alcohol consumption is typically one to two drinks daily. The body begins to develop a tolerance for the alcohol, and the individual may be able to function with very little side effects after drinking substantial amounts. This is followed by high risk use. He or she begins to develop the first signs of abuse. Non-social drinking is frequent and the consumption increases. Drinking often results in poor choices that endanger the alcoholic and those around them.
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The alcohol consumption eventually becomes problematic. The alcoholic begins to experience the negative effects of their drinking. They may begin to miss work and experience health related issues. Alcoholics frequently suffer from impaired liver function and a higher incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. They often begin to have legal problems such as being charged for driving under the influence. Alcoholics are also prone to be involved in violent crimes. This is usually the point where family and friends begin to recognize there is a problem. The alcoholic begins to have feelings of guilt about drinking. They will normally begin to hide their drinking. The individual may change locations where they drink to avoid people they know.
A Progressive Disease
During the later stages of alcoholism, the individual develops a dependency on alcohol and develops cravings that are out of control. They drink regularly to escape stress, and behavioral problems continue to grow worse. The alcoholic may begin to experience memory blackouts. Abstaining from alcohol use at this point typically leads to severe withdrawal symptoms. The individual is usually unwilling to discuss the problem and frequently lies. They typically undergo severe mood and behavioral changes and begin to avoid friends and family. The individual begins to refrain from socializing with non-drinkers. Later stage alcoholics often fail to follow through on commitments and have trouble holding down a job.
The Final Stages
During end stage alcoholism, the individual becomes obsessed with drinking. They stay drunk for extended periods of time. The end stage alcoholic becomes highly resentful of anything or anyone that interferes with their drinking. They increasingly exhibit amoral behavior. The end stages of alcoholism are the deteriorating phase. The individual may be extremely ill and mentally confused. They may sometimes exhibit tremors and hallucinations. Those suffering from end stage alcoholism typically have severe physical and psychological problems due to damaged vital organs. Common disorders found in alcoholics include cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, heart disease, brain damage, malnutrition and respiratory infections.
Many of the debilitating effects of alcoholism are reversible if the individual receives treatment. Otherwise, the end stage alcoholic will die. An alcoholic can opt to change the course of their life at any stage, and Northbound Treatment Services is here to help. They offer a comfortable environment and specialized treatment programs to help patients on their way to recovery.
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Northbound provides the fully integrated treatment that clients need to overcome alcoholism and co-occurring disorders. A team of providers works with clients one-on-one and in group settings to address substance use and mental health challenges that impact recovery. Clients receive the personalized care and treatment they need to make positive changes in their lives, reduce risk for relapse, and learn how to truly thrive in recovery.
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Engaging in addiction treatment is not easy. It takes courage, perseverance, and humility. The transformations that await for those who put in the effort are often awe-inspiring and most certainly worth the effort. Northbound’s residential treatment program is designed to support clients through the treatment experience and beyond. We equip clients with the strategies, skills, and resources necessary to create a sustainable lifestyle of recovery. Read More