It’s not just the person who routinely passes out at parties who might suffer from an alcohol use disorder. It can also be the parents next door, the mail carrier, or even you. Because society frequently desensitizes alcohol abuse, it can be difficult to tell who has a problem. So, what exactly characterizes the stages of the disorder?

Characteristics of an Alcohol Use Disorder

young woman in profile has alcohol use disorderBehavioral scientists define alcohol use disorder as a progressive condition with multiple stages. At its onset, there is the binge drinker. This individual hasn’t yet formed an addiction to the substance. However, it’s already clear that he or she cannot control how much alcohol he or she consumes once the binge begins.

Typically, individuals who binge drink do so in social settings, at parties, or simply when celebrating. Imbibing four to five drinks in a two-hour period qualifies as binge drinking. This behavior usually results in a hangover the next morning. Consuming large quantities of alcohol can also lead to dangerous behaviors.

At the other end of the spectrum, there is the chronic drinker with a case of alcoholism. Chronic drinkers are individuals with physical and psychological addictions to the substance. They may believe that it’s impossible to get through the day without alcohol. After going without a drink for six to ten hours, the body signals its need for the substance by exhibiting withdrawal symptoms.

The chronic stage of the disorder could continue for many years. There are a number of steps, at this juncture, that highlight the progressive nature of the disease. At the end stage, the user may suffer considerable loss, yet continue to drink despite outstanding circumstances. Overall, and most importantly, it’s possible to get help at any progressive stage of the disease.

Typical Misconceptions

Society has attached plenty of stereotypes to individuals with alcohol use disorders. Usually suggesting that moral weakness is the cause of the disease, they frequently reveal their misunderstanding. Suffering from alcohol use disorder has the potential to affect anyone. Although taking the first drink is typically a voluntary choice, the decision to have more may not be.

There are some people who can have a drink or two and stop drinking. For others, however, the first or second drink can act as a gateway to bingeing into drunkenness. Scientists believe that genetics, social conditioning, and peer relationships factor into the development of the condition. Traumatic experiences that inhibit appropriate trigger responses may contribute as well.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatments

As with any substance abuse problem, there’s no cure for the disease. Instead, there’s treatment that allows for remission. The ideal goal for anyone suffering from the disorder is to reach lifelong sobriety. At rehab facilities, therapists use a variety of modalities to help you reach the healthy lifestyle you deserve:

  • Dual diagnosis treatment to support those who have a mental illness alongside an addiction
  • Co-occurring disorders assessments to identify underlying causes of anxiety, depression, and other illnesses
  • Talk therapy for addiction treatment and self-discovery
  • Group therapy that helps form peer bonds and strengthen self-esteem
  • Family therapy, which heals relationships and allows those closest to the person struggling with the disease to participate

Don’t Wait to Get Help

As noted previously, it’s never too late to get help. If you or a loved one struggle with an addiction to alcohol, therapists at 1st Step Behavioral Health can help. You don’t have to suffer in silence for another day. Call (855) 425-4846 today for immediate assistance.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.