According to statistics, more than seventeen million adult US citizens suffer from alcoholism or alcohol use disorder. 

At the same time, approximately one million teens between twelve and seventeen years of age have this problem. 

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It is vital to understand that you cannot become an alcoholic overnight. It requires long-term abuse to reach that level.

We can differentiate a few stages that come with specific symptoms and signs that will help you determine whether you should find help for addiction and dependence.

  1. Occasional Binge Drinking and Abuse

The primary or first stage of alcohol use disorder starts with alcohol experimentation. It is a common situation that happens to young adults and teens. You will introduce yourself with various alcohol options with an idea to test your limits.

Remember that experimentation leads to binge drinking, which is not something that happens regularly. Instead, they start to take large amounts at once. Binge drinking is:

  • For Women – Four or more beverages within two hours
  • For Men – Five or more shots within two hours

Of course, numerous people will pass this amount, especially for teenagers that attend parties. Even though people think that binge drinking is safe, especially if you do it from time to time, it is a lie we tell ourselves.

Consuming large amounts comes with severe issues and dangers that can lead to coma and even fatality. At the same time, you may increase the frequency because you will become dependent on feeling after a few drinks in a short period.

  1. Increased Levels

After you pass the experimental stage, you will start consuming alcohol more frequently than before. Instead of doing it at parties, you will find yourself drinking at least once a week. 

We can differentiate numerous reasons for increased consumption, including:

  • Alleviate stress
  • Hanging with friends
  • Dealing with loneliness and sadness
  • Boredom

Compared with moderate drinking, regular use is an entirely different approach. It means you will create an emotional attachment to the process. For instance, people who drink moderately will consume a glass of wine with meals.

On the other hand, regular drinkers will do it to feel better than before. As you continue with the process, you will reach higher dependency, which may lead to alcoholism.

  1. Problem Drinking

Uncontrolled and frequent abuse will lead to the next stage of problem drinking. Of course, all stages mentioned above are problematic, but if you start to experience the side effects of your habit, it means you have reached this stage.

As a result, you will feel more anxious, depressed, sleep-deprived, and have other problems. At the same time, common problems include feeling sick due to prolonged, heavy consumption, but you will continue with it because you enjoy the feeling of being drunk.

This stage is problematic and dangerous because most people drive drunk, leading to legal issues due to severe abuse. At the same time, you will experience specific social changes, which is an important consideration to remember.

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The most common social changes are:

  • Change in friends
  • Erratic behavior which will affect your social activities
  • Relationship problems
  • Difficulty while talking with others
  1. Dependence

We can differentiate two aspects of alcoholism: addiction and dependence. Keep in mind that you can become dependent without severe addiction, which is essential to remember.

After the problem drinking stage, you will form a dependence on this beverage. It means you will create an attachment that will affect your regular activities and routines. 

At the same time, you will become aware of side effects but continue doing it because you will not control your consumption.

Besides, dependence goes together with tolerance you built throughout a process. It means you will need more significant amounts to reach the same drunk point as before. As a result, you will increase the amount, which will lead to horrible side effects.

Another essential aspect of dependence is withdrawal. As soon as you sober up, you will feel side effects of prolonged consumption, including:

  • Racing heart
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Body tremors
  • Nausea
  • Trouble sleeping
  1. Addiction

Finally, the last stage of alcohol use disorder is addiction, essential to remember. Therefore, you will stop feeling pleasure after drinking, but do it because of need and necessity.

Therefore, you will have both psychological and physical addiction and need to consume it in the first place. If you have reached this stage, you will crave a drink with severe withdrawal symptoms that can become life-threatening at some point.

Besides, you may get addicted to other drugs as well. The most common side effect is compulsive behavior, which means you will drink wherever and whenever you want.

What Should You Do?

The main concern and problem with alcoholics are they do not understand they reached a problematic behavior. Still, each stage mentioned above can lead to severe problems.

The best way to consume alcohol is through moderate drinking, but it is not safe for everyone. It is vital to start identifying the problem at the early stages, preventing severe addiction and dependence. 

At the same time, you may have to undergo an inpatient rehab to detox your body under strict medical supervision. Since you will have to deal with psychological problems, you should implement group and individual therapies to help you out with the process.

Long-term drinking can lead to malnutrition, brain damage, liver damage, mental health, and heart issues. That is why you should prevent problems by avoiding drinking or doing it moderately without getting drunk as a result.