According to MedlinePlus, alcoholism is a severe alcohol use disorder (AUD). Alcoholism is also one of the most common mental health disorders, affecting around 15 million Americans over 18. There are different levels of alcoholism with varying severity.
The History of Research on Levels of Alcoholism and Addiction
Research in alcoholism and addiction is relatively new. Much of the research into alcoholism began following the prohibition era in the US. During this time, the peer support group Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) began helping those who struggled to control their drinking.
Some negative stigmas about alcoholism and those with AUD began before addiction research. These stigmas continue to influence the perception of those with AUD today. Harmful concepts like “addiction is a moral failing” and shaming those with alcohol addiction prevent many from reaching out for the help they need.
Research in alcoholism and addiction provides an understanding of these diseases that can combat these harmful perceptions. The levels of alcoholism shed light on the process of developing alcohol addiction.
What Are the Levels of Alcoholism?
There are four levels of alcoholism that most people with AUD progress through. You can reach out for help no matter what level you are in. When you get treatment at an earlier level, you can prevent developing AUD and minimize the negative consequences of alcohol use in your life.
Precursor to Problem Drinking
The first level is a precursor level classified as “social drinking.” Social drinking means that an individual can enjoy a drink or two without having any adverse effects on their life. During this level, you might drink in a socially acceptable way. However, you could potentially begin using alcohol to manage stress or unwind after a long day. You will either remain at this level with your drinking under control or progress to the next stage.
Drinking to Feel Good
The second stage involves someone who feels the need to drink to have fun or fit in with others. These people may be able to control themselves when they are not intoxicated. However, once they start drinking, they might lose control of their drinking and social behaviors. Regular drinking or binge drinking begins during this level of alcoholism. You might blackout while under the influence or feel remorse the day after drinking.
Losing Control Over Drinking Habits
The third level of alcoholism begins when your drinking gets out of control. You might have cravings for alcohol and sacrifice essential areas in your life to drink. You could be spending a lot of time obtaining alcohol, drinking, or recovering from a hangover at this level. Family members and loved ones might begin to notice changes, like declining performance at work or school.
Severe Consequences From Drinking
The fourth category includes those individuals whose drinking causes severe problems in their lives. You might develop a mental illness that makes it difficult to function normally without alcohol. Physical health issues, such as liver disease or heart damage, can occur during this level caused by excessive consumption of alcohol. Negative consequences, like losing your job or disrupting important relationships in your life, are common in this stage, yet you struggle to stop drinking. You can also be at a high risk of dangerous behaviors.
The first step toward recovery is to find out if you need help. If you suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD), the next steps include getting professional treatment for your addiction and learning how to live without using drugs or alcohol. You can also learn about healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety.
When Should You Be Concerned About Your Drinking?
Alcoholism is a disease that is hard to diagnose and treat. The symptoms of alcoholism are varied, but most people will experience withdrawal when they stop drinking. Here are some signs that you might be suffering from alcoholism or substance abuse:
- You are having trouble sleeping at night.
- Your friends and family notice changes in the way you act.
- You have problems controlling your drinking habits.
- You develop a tolerance for alcohol and consume more to get the same effects.
- The amount of money spent on alcohol increases dramatically.
- You start missing work or school due to being hungover or too tired from being out all night.
- Alcoholics tend to spend a lot of time thinking about what they will drink next.
- People who know you best often see signs of alcoholism before anyone else does.
There are many different types of treatment programs available today. You can be an alcoholic without being aware of it, but if you do become aware of the problem, there is help out there.
Treatment for All Levels of Alcoholism in South Florida
If you can’t stop drinking, start to feel the withdrawal effects of alcohol, or think about having a drink when you’re not drinking, you might have an alcohol addiction. You can get help no matter what level of alcoholism you are currently in. Ambrosia Treatment Center of South Florida is here to help those struggling with alcoholism. Call us today or visit our admissions page to learn more about alcohol rehab and recovery.