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Seven Stages of Alcoholism

A diagnostic tool to assess alcohol abuse and addiction.

1 Your Role
I want to learn about treatment options for:

2 Basic Information
The Person is:
years old

graduated high school

3 Condition Information
Caron Treatment Centers accepts patients aged 13 years or older. For more information on services available to those 12 and under, please learn more about Caron's Student Assistance Program.

Alcoholism follows a predictable progression over time. The Seven Stages of Alcoholism is a tool designed to help healthcare professionals assess an individual’s disease state.

Stage 1: Abstinence

Alcohol addiction can begin before an individual starts drinking—due to genetic predispositions or attitudes and perceptions consistent with those who suffer from addiction.

Stage 2: Initial Use

This can include experimental use of alcohol, occasional use or occasional binge drinking (once or twice a year). Initial use of alcohol may not yet be a problem for the user or those close to them. Occasional alcohol consumption may cause difficulties while they are under the influence or the following day, but they have not become addicted.

Stage 3: High Risk Use

High risk refers to an abundance of drinking and making poor decisions while under the influence. At this stage, the pattern and frequency of alcohol abuse is high enough to be dangerous to the drinker and those around them.

Stage 4: Problematic Use

The negative consequences of drinking become apparent. Health issues, including impaired liver function or sexually transmitted diseases arise. Drinking-related legal issues occur, like driving under the influence (DUI). In this stage, family and friends become aware of the problem.

Stage 5: Early Stage of Dependency

The early stage of alcohol addiction is characterized by noticeable lifestyle changes. The user begins to miss work. They pick fights with family and friends and choose to drink despite negative consequences. At this point, alcohol rehab is most effective.

Stage 6: Middle Stage of Dependency

During the middle stage of alcohol addiction, negative consequences start to pile up. The user loses his or her job due to too many absences and alcohol-induced fights end relationships. The negative consequences of alcoholism become irreversible.

Stage 7: Crisis Stage of Dependency

At this crisis point, everyone is aware of the effects of alcoholism—including the alcoholic. Serious health problems ensue. The alcoholic is rarely without a drink, but thinks no one notices. This stage frequently results in alcohol-related deaths for users who do not enter treatment.

If this list describes the behavior of you or someone you support, please don't hesitate to explore our programs or reach out to Caron with questions or concerns.