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Alcoholism is the most prevalent substance use disorder in the U.S. with approximately 15 million adults affected, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism constitute serious lifestyle and health issues, impacting all aspects of life.
Alcoholism is considered a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain that may result in death. Once alcohol abuse escalates to the point of chemical dependency, meaning the brain’s neural pathways have become altered and the body then is dependent on it, it is only possible to overcome the disease through professional treatment intervention.
Are There Different Levels of Alcoholism?
Much research has been conducted giving us answers to the question, “Are there different levels of alcoholism?” When alcohol use is not controlled or moderated, it can become an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorders may progress from mild to moderate to severe, although the factors that drive the escalation make it difficult to predict the actual end point of the disease. Generally, alcoholism falls into the following stages:
- Early stage alcoholism. In the early stage of alcoholism, it is not always obvious that there is a problem, as the individual is still functioning. The disordered drinking may have arisen from an attempt to manage stress or negative emotional states. As tolerance builds, consumption increases, which will lead to more obvious signs that there is a problem. Symptoms may include alcohol craving, inability to moderate intake, and increasing the amount of alcohol consumption.
- Middle stage alcoholism. In the middle stage of alcoholism, the social, physical, and psychological effects are apparent. Attempts are made to hide the amount of drinking, such as hiding alcohol or lying about consumption. Symptoms may include shakiness or hand tremors, severe headaches, depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, nausea, mood swings, and excessive sweating.
- Late stage alcoholism. Late stage, or end stage alcoholism features a loss of control over the substance. Major negative life consequences stack up, such as job loss, relationship turmoil, child custody issues, financial and legal problems. Health is now seriously impacted, with nutritional deficiencies, hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, and even brain damage present. When alcohol is not available, highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms emerge. Alcohol consumes the person’s life, to the neglect of all other responsibilities.
The 5 Subtypes of Alcoholism
Further delineating alcohol use disorders are the 5 subtypes of alcoholics. The five sub-types of alcoholism include:
- Young adult alcoholic. The young adult subtype accounts for 30% of all alcohol subtypes. Alcohol abuse ramps up around age 20 and can evolve into dependency by age 25. There are twice the number of men than women in this subtype, and family history of alcoholism is common.
- Young antisocial alcoholic. The young antisocial subtype involves adults older than age 26, of which half also have antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorder, social phobia, anxiety, or depression. Males make up 2/3 of this subtype and have a history of heavy drinking dating to their teens.
- Functional alcoholic. The functional subtype tends to include middle-aged adults, of which half are married, are actively employed, and are usually in denial about their alcohol problem. These individuals tend to drink heavily on alternate days, consuming five or more drinks on those days.
- Intermediate familial alcoholic. The intermediate familial alcoholic began drinking in their late teens and was alcohol dependent around age 30. There is family history of alcoholism as well as depression. Twenty percent will have a mental health disorder, such as OCD or bipolar disorder, and most smoke.
- Chronic severe alcoholic. The chronic severe alcoholic subtype involves only 9% of alcoholics who are dependent on alcohol. These are predominately middle-age males with high divorce rates. Only 10% have a college education, and about half are working full-time. This subtype consumes high levels of alcohol, up to 15 drinks in a single session. This group features a genetic or family history to alcoholism.
Treatment for Alcoholism
The answer to the question, “Are there different levels of alcoholism?” is a resounding yes. However, regardless of the stage or subtype of alcohol use disorder, alcoholism can be treated through a commitment to abstinence. This can be achieved only through a professional treatment program where a safe, medically supervised detox initiates the rehab process. Following detox, the individual will participate in various therapies and activities that help them make fundamental changes in thought patterns and behaviors. Rehab provides the recovery skills and support to assist the individual in achieving a sustained recovery.
Solutions 4 Recovery Leading Addiction and Dual Diagnosis Provider for Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Solutions 4 Recovery is an Orange County residential rehab that provides comprehensive treatment for alcohol use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. The program is grounded in sound, evidence-based therapy models combined with complimentary activities and naltrexone drug therapy that further enhance therapeutic results. If you are wondering are there different levels of alcoholism and are concerned about a loved one, please contact Solutions 4 Recovery today at (888) 417-1874.