While alcoholism affects more than 14 million Americans annually, the vast majority of people who struggle with an alcohol-related disorder don’t receive treatment. Since the stages of alcoholism can develop rapidly and lead to severe dependence, it’s important to remember that early treatment is the best way to recover.
Addiction, alcoholism, and substance abuse disorders are progressive and chronic conditions that impact your brain chemistry, physical health, and relationships. All psychoactive substances have the potential to cause addiction, including alcohol. Although alcohol remains legal, the truth is drinking is just as dangerous as experimenting with drugs because it can lead to physical and psychological addiction.
What are the Stages of Alcoholism?
Like other diseases, alcoholism is progressive. The stages of alcoholism begin with your first drink, progressing to recreational use, abuse, and dependency. Although there is no set amount of time it takes to progress through the stages of alcoholism, dependency can occur shortly after your first drink.
Alcohol causes your brain to release a powerful rush of neurotransmitters, including GABA, which creates euphoric and calming effects. The surge of neurotransmitters exceeds the amount your brain normally releases, which causes you to experience a depletion once intoxication ends. As you progress through the stages of alcoholism, you begin to develop a serious neurotransmitter imbalance.
Alcoholism creates a vicious cycle. When you first begin drinking, intoxication is almost always a positive experience, which makes you want to drink more often. However, the more you drink, the more severe the come-down is, meaning you can deal with mood changes and cravings when you aren’t drinking. Eventually, your brain needs alcohol in order to release neurotransmitters, which is when you reach the later stages of alcoholism.
If you discontinue your drinking, you can deal with detox symptoms, which make it hard to remain sober. The last stages of addiction cause your body and your mind to become dependent on alcohol in order to function normally, which can make recovery difficult without proper treatment.
How is Alcoholism Treated?
Once you progress through the stages of alcoholism, treatment is almost always necessary in order to recover. Detox symptoms can begin within hours of your last drink, making it important to reach out to a detox program when you decide to stop drinking.
During inpatient or outpatient treatment, you can receive medically supervised detox services. Staff can administer medications to decrease the severity of your symptoms, thereby making it easier to complete a withdrawal. Once you complete detox, you can choose to attend an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, both of which can offer:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Relapse prevention education
- Individual, group, and family therapy
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment
- Aftercare and discharge planning
While the stages of alcoholism can have damaging consequences, recovery is always possible. Treatment programs offer you the support, guidance, and skills you need to learn how to achieve lasting sobriety. Don’t allow alcoholism to control your life. Reach out today at 1.713.528.3709 to find out how our treatment programs can help you beat alcoholism.