4 Stages of Alcoholism for the Functioning Alcoholic
The myth of the functioning alcoholic is one that’s been around forever, but in truth, there is really no such thing — at least not for any extended period of time. When a person first begins drinking too much, it is likely that they can still keep it under control enough to prevent it from causing major problems for their life or health. However, alcohol addiction is a never-ending spiral, meaning that excessive consumption will eventually begin to catch up with everyone.
Although the cycle of addiction is different for everyone, the majority of so-called functioning alcoholics will eventually go through each of these stages. That is unless they begin to undergo alcohol treatment and finally put a stop to their abuse.
Stage #1: Increased Alcohol Tolerance
The first thing that most people notice when they begin drinking more is that they suddenly need to more beer, wine or liquor than they used to. Whereas a few beers may have been enough to make you feel tipsy in the past, you might soon find that it takes a six pack before you start feeling any effect at all.
Increased tolerance is always a sign that a person is drinking too much. The problem is that most people don’t recognize it as such. In fact, many functioning alcoholics often go a week or more without a drink, which makes them unable to see that they have a problem. However, the issue is that they when they do drink, they tend to do so solely with the intention of getting drunk. Even binge drinking every now and again is a sign that you have problems controlling your alcohol intake, which you may be able to correct through outpatient alcohol treatment.
Stage #2: You Can’t Cope Without Drinking
Many people go from simply drinking on the weekends to having a few drinks every day. The reason being that they feel that alcohol helps them to cope with stress, anxiety and life’s other problems. However, using alcohol or any other drug as a coping mechanism is generally a slippery slope, as you’ll soon be desperate to have a drink as soon as you come home from work. In some cases, you may not even be able to wait that long and will potentially begin drinking during the day or worse, starting off the morning with a drink.
Stage #3: The First Consequences Begin to Appear
Eventually, excessive alcohol consumption will begin to catch up in some way. These consequences can be wide ranging, from being isolated from friends and family to potentially facing legal troubles. In addition, you may also start to find yourself feeling constantly depressed and only every happy when you’ve been drinking. Basically, there is no way you can hide your alcoholism forever, meaning it’s likely that you’ll face some sort of consequences eventually.
Stage #4: You Experience Notable Physical and Mental Changes
If the signs of stage three aren’t enough to force you to seek alcohol treatment, eventually your alcoholism will start to manifest itself in notable outward signs. Your face and nose may start to be permanently red and flushed or you may put on quite a bit of weight from your drinking. In addition, your doctor will most likely also be able to tell, as excessive drinking generally always leads to some health problems.
Even if you can go out and get drunk every night and still make it into work on time every morning, it doesn’t mean that you should. In fact, there is no way that you will be able to keep it up forever, as the alcohol will definitely take its toll on your life and health at some point.
Even if you think you’re still functioning despite your alcohol issues, it’s still imperative that you seek treatment. Luckily, you’re probably not yet at the point where you need to enter rehab. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to contact our outpatient alcohol treatment center to get help while this is still the case.
About the Author:
Dave Rose is the Executive Director of Renaissance Ranch Ogden Outpatient, an addiction recovery center in Utah. His passion for this work stems from his own experience with addiction and recovery both within himself and with family members and gives him the perspective of both the addict and of those that love them.
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