Understanding The Stages of Alcohol Addiction

 Alcoholism is a disease of the body and mind. Alcohol addiction is cunning, baffling, and powerful. If you are concerned about your drinking, or that of a loved one, know that help is available.


Taking on alcoholism is not a battle that you need to, or should, fight alone. Being able to recognize alcoholic behavior, the side effects of drinking too much alcohol, and the symptoms of alcoholism will allow you to identify if you or your loved one should seek help. 


Below are the stages of alcohol addiction and some of the signs and symptoms associated with each phase of alcoholism. Use this guide as a tool to seek help! Pat Moore Foundation is available 24/7 to answer questions and to provide guidance if you are concerned about alcohol addiction.  Call (888) 342-7748 or reach out online here.


Social Drinkers

Do not experience any troubles associated with alcohol and can take or leave a drink, rarely drinking to the point of intoxication.



Alcohol may still be a fun, social tool for the Pre-Alcoholic and from outside appearances drinking doesn’t seem to be causing real problems. The drinker, or those close to them, may notice some shifts in drinking patterns including:

  • Drinking more than normal to achieve the same level of intoxication
  • Drinking in response to stress or as a way to alleviate problems


Early Stage Alcoholism

At this point, alcohol is starting to have consequences in the drinker’s life. Relationships begin to be impacted at home, at work, and in personal life. Some symptoms can include:

  • Guilt associated with behavior while drinking
  • Hiding the true amount that they drink (i.e. drinking before going out, sneaking extra shots at the bar, etc.)
  • Changing social circles to spend time with people who drink as much, or do not judge alcohol intake
  • Making excuses for missing work, social engagements, or other responsibilities due to drinking and hangovers
  • Legal problems may begin to occur as well at this stage


Middle Stage Alcoholism

During this stage, the side effects of the drinker’s alcoholism and the symptoms begin to be nearly impossible to hide.  Drinking takes priority in most aspects of the person’s life and daily life is structured around supporting the addiction.  There may not be actual physical dependence on alcohol in this Middle Stage, but there is significant psychological dependence on alcohol to help the drinker “cope” with daily life.  Some symptoms can include:

  • Legal trouble related to drinking
  • Repercussions at work due to hangovers, missing work, or drinking on the job
  • Drinking in the morning to relieve anxiety or shaking
  • Increased blackouts and drinking to extreme intoxication
  • The desire to drink shapes most decisions and the company one keeps
  • Attempts to control or manage drinking are unsuccessful


Late Stage Alcoholism

At this stage the side effects of alcohol and symptoms of alcoholism are unmistakable. The drinker experiences physical as well as psychological dependence on alcohol and must drink each day to avoid withdrawal or detoxification. 

  • Inability to keep a job, extreme repercussions with work, or consistent job loss
  • Severe medical conditions including: pancreatitis, liver damage or cirrhosis, high blood pressure, stroke, among others
  • Increased alcohol-related accidents occur due blackouts
  • Drinking despite financial, marital, and personal injury repercussions
  • The need to drink each day


If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism, seek help! Life can be free from the horrible, lonely torture that haunts a person actively experiencing alcohol addiction. There is no wrong time to find help.  If alcohol is causing problems in your life, there is a solution. Contact Pat Moore Foundation now for confidential feedback on the support that is available: 1 (888) 342-7748.  


About the Author: Camille loves to live a sober life. She worked in public health for years and now works as a writer, a dream she had for so long but was always too scared to pursue!  Sobriety gave her the opportunity to believe in her dreams. She is amazed and grateful for the opportunity to work with the Pat Moore Foundation, write about recovery, and carry the message of hope to others walking this challenging, rewarding path. 


Image: Flickr

D'Amore Healthcare works diligently to offer gracious redundancy, treating each other and our patients with unconditional positive regard. We are breaking down those stereotypes and those subconscious patterns. Helping the individual create a new way of living that they are choosing to be proud of.

Our Qualified staff at D’amore Healthcare is here for you. If you have any questions regarding help for yourself or a loved one please contact our admissions department 24 hours a day at 714.375.1110 or fill out the contact form.

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