Stages of alcoholism
Alcohol abuse is a serious social and health care problem. The condition is suggested to be a psychiatric disorder, a kind of addiction.
Alcohol addiction develops gradually. Alcohol is a substance that via changes in the body’s biochemistry causes dependence. In the beginning, it’s psychological, than physical and at the end stage occurs encephalopathy.
The early stage is also known as a stage of psychological addiction. It may last from 1 up to 6 years. Usually it is seen in young persons at the age between 25 and 35 years.
A person experiences wish to consume alcohol, his/her thoughts are often connected with alcohol or an individual is totally concentrated on alcohol. He/she finds a reason to have a drink – birthday, anniversary, holiday, etc. Tendency to self-justification is common.
Alcohol tolerance increases in 2 or 3 times. Vomiting doesn’t occur even in case of severe intoxication, while episodes of memory loss called palimpsests are typical.
Afterwards a person experiences postintoxation symptoms. After being drunk he or she has a severe hangover characterized by the disgust to alcohol, its smell.
Withdrawal symptoms are not common.
Argues and family problems arise acutely and later contribute to divorces.
At this stage the physical dependence is formed. It usually lasts up to ten years, although in approximately 33% it has a longer duration.
Denial of having a potential alcohol problem is often present at this stage. Despite the obvious addiction a person is sure that he/she is healthy and able to stop drinking whenever he/she wishes.
The main feature of physical addiction is alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Typically the symptoms of withdrawal develop within 12-24 hours after the drinking cessation.
Unconscious body reactions are seen when something remains a person about alcohol: he/she is smiling, the saliva production increases.
The qualitative alcohol beverages are usually expensive and soon alcoholics start consuming alcohol of lesser quality and cheaper.
An affected person spends copious amounts of time engaged in alcohol related behavior and is unable to work, learn, concentrate, etc.
Social disadaptation develops, in some cases affected persons tend to break the laws while being drunk.
Personality changes are also typical. Emotional reactions are impaired and inappropriate, the person appears anxious and exaggerated.
Degradation of personality may develop in a few different ways:
- Autistic type – an affected person is socially isolated and usually drinks alone. All the contacts with other people are enforced by the necessity to get alcohol. Self-esteem is low and the person doesn’t see any other perspectives in life except the continuation of drinking;
- Explosive type – an affected person is aggravated and argues with other all the time;
- Hysterioid type (common for females) – an affected person is showing up while drinking and provoke the others;
- Heboid type – an affected person seems to be satisfied and convinces the others of their happiness;
On the end stage encephalopathy develops and alcoholism affects a person physically, socially and mentally. Opposite to the previous stages on the third stage tolerance to alcohol decreases.
The desire to drink is compulsive and usually present. It remains hunger or thirst. The person fails to control the amount of drunk and the failure of self-control follows.
The desire to drink interferes with social and family activities, and work. An affected person is interested only in alcohol, he/she is unable to fall asleep without drinking alcohol.
At this stage the damage to the body is obvious as many complications related to alcohol abuse occur.These include mental illness, Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome, liver failure, cirrhosis, ascitis, pancreatitis, hepatic cancer and many others.