Functioning Alcoholics To Addicts: 4 Stages

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Because of the unfortunate consequences that go with it, alcoholism has been a focus of negative stereotypes through the years. Though spreading the negative effects of alcohol addiction was meant to make people turn away from the substance, it has become a source of stigma. Because of this, the term “functioning alcoholic” was born.

Experts in addiction rehabilitation like Dr. Maher Soudah explained that the term “functioning alcoholic” is usually used by people who are in denial that they have the chronic medical condition. This is because people’s connotation of the term “alcoholic” is far from being good, making those who are suffering from the condition find a way to make themselves feel good even though they are dependent on alcohol.

Behavioral Signs Of A Functioning Alcoholic

To understand them better, Dr. Soudah and his team of experts at Kaiser Wellness Center gathered information on the behavioral signs that characterize a functioning alcoholic. Among them are:

  • Having blackouts and forgetting what happened while they were drunk
  • Failing to stick to a drinking limit they set for themselves
  • Trying to hide when drinking
  • Becoming defensive or angry when someone brings up the possibility that they may be alcoholic
  • Having a “pre-drinking” drinking session before their actual night out
  • Kidding around about being an alcoholic
  • Replacing food with alcohol
  • Drinking early in the morning or throughout the day

After going through this list, it is important to understand that “functioning alcoholics” still suffer from the chronic medical condition and that they still need help. However, it is also important to note that alcoholism has different stages that may come at varying periods for individuals.

4 Stages Of Alcoholism

The path to addiction is a troublesome one. Even so, it is important to understand which stage of alcoholism the person is in to help him avoid falling down the spiral.

Stage #1: Binge Drinking or Occasional Abuse

According to experts, the person who may have alcohol problems will make excuses that they only drink occasionally. However, doing so is actually a sign that they are already at the first stage of alcoholism.

Based on specialist studies, people who binge drink are in an experimental stage where they occasionally consume massive amounts of alcohol and try out new kinds of liquor to see how much they can have. As far as specialists are concerned, men who consume at least 5 alcoholic beverages or women who drink 4 or more within two hours can be considered as binge drinkers.

Moreover, binge drinkers and occasional alcohol abusers are usually young adults and teens. Often, they do it out of peer pressure more than trying to escape their problem-stricken realities.

Stage #2: Increased Drinking

After binge drinking is the increase in alcohol consumption. During the first and experimental stage of alcoholism, a person often maximizes his limits with alcohol. In the second stage, they try to exceed it. With that said, individuals who are already in this stage often find excuses to consume alcohol. That is, instead of drinking when there is an occasion, they make up reasons to come together with a goal of getting drunk together.

Increase in alcohol consumption often happens because alcoholic people are bored, want to ease stress, or are feeling a bit down.

Stage #3: Drinking Problems

A “problem drinker” is someone who feels consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. Based on experts’ account on the matter, the person with drinking problems show signs that alcohol is already interfering with his or her usual activities.

Among the common dilemmas that result from problem-drinking is an unexpected change of preference in friends, relationship conflicts, lower social activity, difficulty in speaking to strangers, and overall erratic behavior. Sometimes, people in this stage of alcoholism might also encounter problems with the law, depression, and anxiety.

People who are already at this stage may still not suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking but dropping the habit would be extra difficult because of the attachment they have formed with the substance.

Stage #4: Alcohol Dependence

Dependence on alcohol comes as the fourth and final stage of alcoholism. During this stage, the individual already requires higher quantities of alcohol to feel its effects and might also suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they fail to consume the substance.

While some people consider themselves “functioning alcoholics” since they can still get up, go to work, and act on their responsibilities, their bodies aren’t well. Even so, it is never too late to seek help.

While it is easier to treat the condition during its early stages, experts like Dr. Maher Soudah and his team at Kaiser Wellness Center can turn your life around even if you’re already at the final stage of alcoholism.


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