The Stages of Alcoholism Part 1

Note this is the first blog of The Stages of Alcoholism. Please click on The Stages of Alcoholism Part 2 after reading this blog.

Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder, means drinking in spite of increasing, severe, and often potentially fatal consequences. The alcohol-addicted person loses control of their drinking, and the alcohol takes control. To non-addicts, this seems impossible. However, to the alcoholic, it is all too-real.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported 7.2 percent of adults in America were diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder in 2012, a number equaling approximately 17 million people aged 18 and older. 855,000 teens aged 12 to 17 also received this diagnosis that year.

The DSM-V, the manual psychologists and psychiatrists use to diagnose mental health disorders, lists 11 symptoms or “factors” that are typically seen in alcohol use disorders. Two or three factors seen in one year places a person in the category of mild or early alcohol addiction. A person who experiences six or more of the symptoms has entered the severe, late stages of alcohol use disorder.


  1. Drinks more than they intended or for longer than intended.
  2. Tries to cut down or stop drinking and fails more than once.
  3. Spends more time drinking, thinking about drinking, or recovering after drinking.
  4. Experiences strong needs, urges, or cravings to drink.
  5. Drinking or being sick from drinking interferes with taking care of responsibilities to family, home, work, or school.
  6. Drinking in spite of it causing problems in relationships with family and friends.
  7. Cuts back or gives up important or fun activities to drink.
  8. Has more than one situation of dangerous or risky behavior, such as swimming, driving, unprotected sex, or operating machinery, while drinking or after drinking.
  9. Drinks in spite of increased depression, anxiety, or worsening mental or physical health problems, or drinks after having a blackout from drinking.
  10. Needs to drink more to feel drunk, or finds that the usual number of drinks no longer has the same effect.
  11. Experiences withdrawal symptoms, such as: shaking, irritability, depression, anxiety, nausea, sweating, problems sleeping, nightmares, restlessness, or has hallucinations.

The sooner a person seeks professional treatment, the better their prognosis for recovery.


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This is a two-part blog. Please click on The Stages of Alcoholism Part 2 to continue reading.