Stages of Alcoholism

Alcohol consumption is widely accepted in society. Roughly 12% of the population has problems with drinking. The question to answer is where you see yourself on the stages of alcoholism.

Social Drinking

In the first stage of alcoholism the motivation is social. Consumption is not typically heavy and use is more periodic.

It is at this point where the idea, “I can quit anytime” may actually be true. For those who are not addicted they actually may not like the way it feels when they become intoxicated.

This factor alone may account for using less alcohol than a problem drinker.
For the person who has issues with alcohol the motivation begins to change to…


What used to be recreational or social use now becomes an alternative to a hard day, a stressful event, an altercation or other reasons to use.

Using at this stage seems to make those issues less important. The truth is the problems are buried rather than resolved. It turns out when the drinking stops, problems may actually be worse instead of better.

This stage may last from a few months to several years. There is no set timetable for this to happen.

The need to find relief becomes routine and consuming alcohol is the answer for the alcoholic. This leads to the next stage…


Resolving problems is no longer an occasional event it has become normal. Drinking is very often daily and the amount of use can be heavy.

For the alcoholic, this stage is fraught with denial. The idea, “I can quit anytime” is no longer true. It has become more than simply a matter of willpower.

An alcoholic finds it extremely difficult to imagine life without drinking. You can see this by how events are planned around if booze will be there or not. It is even very likely they need a buzz before they go to an event because they may not have enough alcohol to get them where they want to go. The next stage is even more problematic…


There comes a point with alcoholism where the idea of not drinking is rare to non-existent. Drinking has become so much a part of life that considering the alternative if it is going to happen will likely come from outside of them.

The consideration of where alcohol use is taking them does not play a major role at this point. The idea of recreational use is actually absurd.
Consequences are likely to begin happening such as physical effects such as stomach problems, heart issues or onset of other major disease such as Type II Diabetes.

Regardless of the stage of alcoholism, there is a way out. It becomes more and more difficult to quit as progression moves to the later stages where outside intervention may be necessary.

Written by Wendell Montney

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