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The Stages of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a progressive disease that can take years to develop. Alcoholism can be defined as a disease in which the sufferer is compelled to drink, even though it is negatively affecting his relationships, his work and his family.
Men and women who aren't pregnant can usually consume a drink a day without adverse health affects. This amount is also socially acceptable in today's society. However, when some people find they can't stop at that one drink per day, the earliest of the three stages of alcoholism may be developing.
In the earliest stage of alcoholism, the drinker starts to need the alcohol. They think about it more and more. They feel without it they cannot maintain a good mood. They are gradually increasing their tolerance to the drug, and start needing more and more in order to get desired mood change. Sometimes a burgeoning alcoholic will drink quite large amounts without seeming to be impaired.
In this earliest stage many people will discover their faculties actually improve with the drinking of alcohol. The body is adapting to the regular higher levels of alcohol in the blood. However, it can't keep up. As the user drinks more and more, the body starts to lose its ability to deal with these high levels of blood alcohol. Now, as the sufferer stops drinking and the blood alcohol level starts to decrease, they find those impairments previously associated with alcohol to be present without it. They are hindered when walking, talking and thinking. They are moving into the next stage of alcoholism.
At this point the drinker is losing control over his drinking. His body is losing control over its ability to process the alcohol. Tolerance decreases, and the drinker needs less alcohol to achieve the same level of intoxication. But they rarely start drinking less, because when they do, the withdrawal symptoms become more severe. So instead, they drink more, and start drinking earlier.
As the alcoholism takes over, the person may have already realized the problem, but has become helpless to do anything about it. Others are noticing it, too, but he can no longer judge when he's had enough alcohol. Even when aware, he denies a problem. Associated problems are being seen more regularly now, like blackouts and stomach problems.
As alcoholism progresses, the drinker has become obsessed with drink to the exclusion of almost all else. Heath is seriously compromised. Relationships at home have perhaps been permanently damaged, and financial and legal problems are mounting as the alcoholic can think only of where to get his next drink.
All alcoholism sufferers are malnourished, and their livers have been damaged, further reducing their bodies' ability to use nutrients. Nutrition loss just makes all other alcohol-related damage worse.
At this point, if the alcoholic continues to drink, death will surely be the result. Suicide, accident-related injuries, and direct alcohol-related organ damage are all undeniable results of failing to reverse the last stage of alcoholism.
Understanding the warning signs and recognizing the early stage of alcoholism while you're still in it could save your life.
Author: Michael Russell
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