Alcohol abuse leads quickly to alcoholism, a condition whereby the user no longer has any control over his drinking habits and urges. It is not easy to determine when one has reached this point, however, as the changes are so gradual that it is not always apparent until it is a full-fledged addiction. The user generally moves through several stages, and one does not have to wait until he has hit rock bottom before getting help.
From Experimentation to Risky Use
Alcohol use usually begins with experimentation. The user is usually trying to erase another problem, such as loss of a loved one, social problems, or nervousness. Alcohol seems to solve the problem, so use continues, which leads to regular use.
The next stage of alcohol abuse is regular use. Some people remain in this stage indefinitely. They do not move into a full-fledged addiction, and they can stop on their own volition, but they drink regularly to address their problems.
The following stage is risky use, which is not always easy to gauge. Risky behavior differs for every individual, but loved ones can usually judge out-of-the-ordinary, risky actions. It is important to speak up at this point, as this stage can move quickly into the next stage of alcohol abuse.
Tolerance Leads to Dependence
At this stage, the urge to drink becomes more powerful. Users usually start drinking earlier in the day. Tolerance increases and the user no longer drinks to relax or ease tension, but because of his dependence on alcohol.
A notable point about this stage of alcoholism is that dependence starts becoming apparent to friends and family, but the user usually experiences denial. He becomes expert at explaining his drinking away, convincing even himself. Loss of control is not frequent, so the user appears to be able to stop when he wants. However, the truth is that it is becoming more and more impossible to stop, and he begins to feel more concerned and embarrassed about his drinking habits.
Physical manifestations begin at this stage, including hangovers, blackouts, hand tremors and stomach problems. Although the problem is becoming more apparent, the user usually denies drinking as the source of the problem and frequently blames others or external influences for their difficulties.
Narconon Breaks Down Addiction
Up until this point, the problem drinker had a choice as to whether he could take the first drink; he would lose control after the first drink and continue drinking to excess. At this stage, however, drinking becomes a necessity. An alcoholic cannot function without a drink. He needs it just to feel normal.
Prior to this stage of alcoholism, the drinker’s hands may have trembled a little in the morning after a night of drinking. In the case of addiction, however, the alcoholic experiences tremors when he is forced to stop drinking for any length of time. This is an indication of a nervous system disorder known as “DT’s” or delirium tremens. With this condition comes hallucinations, sweats and chills.
After a bout of DT’s, it is typical for the alcoholic to swear off drinking forever, but this promise is rarely fulfilled. Unless they get help, they will simply return to their drinking patterns and the problems begin all over again.
This is the pattern of addiction that we have seen for years at Narconon. However there is a solution; it lies in long term treatment. Rehabilitating the mind as well as the body of an alcoholic is the primary way to stop the abuse problem and the cycle of addiction with alcohol.
For more information on the stages of alcohol abuse, or to get someone help contact us.