Understanding Functional Alcoholics
Alcoholism is a complex disease, though many still think it’s one that’s easy to spot. They often picture someone who does nothing more than sit at home and drink. While this is true in some cases, alcoholism more often takes a different form – one that is much harder to detect. Generally, there are 4 stages of alcoholism, but people can rarely identify them.
Alcoholics can live relatively normal lives, even as they are drinking. These people can go to work or school each day without issue. They contribute to the community and continue to perform as a family member or volunteer. If you don’t know them closely, you might never realize that a functioning alcoholic is living with such a disease.
Unfortunately, this distinct difference makes it very difficult to convince functioning alcoholics to seek treatment. They often believe they do not have alcoholism or that their problem isn’t serious enough to warrant help because it does not interfere with their lives. However, this is far from the truth. These people need an alcohol assessment to wake them up to the realities of their addiction.
Regardless of the severity, functioning alcoholics have the same disease as those down and out people on the streets. If they refuse to seek treatment, they put themselves at risk for many different diseases and conditions like cancer, liver failure, and heart disease. This is in addition to the chances of injury during intoxication, and, of course, the threat of worsening alcoholism and lower quality of life. The only way to combat these problems is with alcohol addiction treatment.
The 4 Stages Of Alcoholism
What are the stages of alcoholism? This type of alcoholism begins gradually and morphs into a serious issue over time. Because these symptoms occur at a more relaxed pace, many people find it hard to realize they’re developing such a problem. Being able to recognize these 4 stages of alcoholism and their symptoms could make all the difference when looking for unhealthy behavior in yourself, friends, and family members.
Stage 1: Binge Drinking And Increased Tolerance
During stage one, functioning alcoholics will often have no control over how much they consume after the first drink. They “drink to get drunk.” While this may sound like a silly way to categorize, it actually provides some good insight. According to Addiction Campuses, the average drinker doesn’t become intoxicated when they’re consuming alcohol – they don’t enjoy losing control or having memory loss, and so they drink much less than you may think. Alcoholics are different. The loss of control and the feeling of oblivion is what they aim for. For many, it is when they feel relaxed enough to be in control.
Stage one alcoholics don’t often drink every day. They usually consume alcohol on the weekends or a couple days per week, but it seems to have much less prevalence in their lives than you would expect. At this point, drinking is a want instead of a need.
However, the drinking is usually very intense when it happens. Stage 1 alcoholics may embarrass themselves or sustain excessive injuries because of how intoxicated they are. What’s worse, they will consume more and more alcohol (binge drinking) as their tolerance rises.
Stage 2: Coping With The Use Of Alcohol
Stage two alcoholics drink to make themselves feel better. Consuming alcohol becomes the go-to answer for every occasion in their lives – stress, success, and all conditions in-between. They become unable to deal with the highs and lows of life without alcohol. At this stage, compulsive thoughts begin and the want morphs into an actual need.
People in stage two of alcoholism look for every excuse to drink. They’ll consume alcohol when they get fired or snag that promotion they’ve been looking for. This is the time when most people begin to feel like a functioning alcoholic or when friends and family start to notice. There are not questions and interventions at this stage, but their loved ones will likely be aware that something is wrong.
Stage 3: Consequences Of Alcoholism Stages
During stage three, an alcoholic’s entire life begins to change. Their priorities are rearranged entirely. Drinking demands immense focus, but more importantly, they’ll have to begin dealing with problems as a result of their habits.
Stage three alcoholics are often bombarded with questions (and sometimes accusations). People, especially friends and family members, may begin to ask about the alcoholic’s life, state of mind, and people they spend time with. The stress of dealing with these issues often begins to deteriorate the mental state, leading to:
- Alcoholics begin to avoid people who make them uncomfortable by asking questions or reminding them they have a problem.
- Legal issues. The more they drink, the more likely it is alcoholics will run into some sort of legal problem. DUIs, damaged property, and personal injury suits are the most common.
- The reality of being addicted to alcohol combined with the stress, guilt, shame, and financial burden make the perfect recipe for hard-hitting and swift depression. This is only made worse by the natural depressant properties of alcohol.
Stage 4: Bodily Changes During Alcoholism
By stage 4 alcoholism, body performance has been visibly affected. Many alcoholics feel perpetually tired, irritated, or foggy. High blood pressure and liver damage begin to show, as well as many other conditions like stomach distention. Stage four alcoholics may wake up shaking from lack of alcohol and tend to show a bright flush to the skin.
Drinking daily is not healthy and at this point it becomes obvious. Many stage four alcoholics are prescribed a host of pills to manage their new symptoms like heartburn and stomach ulcers. The medications may alleviate some discomfort, but the conditions cannot improve as long as they are continuing to consume alcohol.
This is the stage where most alcoholics cling to the fact that they are still going to work. Many of them may arrive a bit buzzed from the night before, yet they stress that they still arrived. Even though they are present at work, their performance will likely be dimensioned. But some high-functioning alcoholics can mask this at work for years. Eventually, though, the side effects from the 4 stages of alcoholism will become harder and harder to manage.
Those suffering from the fourth of the 4 stages of alcoholism may still be functioning, but it is slowly slipping out of their control, and the signs are starting to become clear that either the problem gets addressed, or the problem will become a threat to life.
Seeking Help For Alcoholism
No matter which of the 4 stages of alcoholism they’re in, there is hope for every alcoholic with guidance, support, and proper treatment. If you or a loved one is trapped by this deadly disease, reach out for help. The Dunes offers a blend of clinical services and holistic treatment to help a person through alcohol addiction recovery. It’s never too late to reclaim your life and freedom and begin to undo the damage drinking has done.
It’s Never Too Late To Get Helped For Your Loved One That Is Suffering From Alcohol Addiction.
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