Alcohol addiction is a growing problem across the globe, affecting not only the lives of the people who drink but the lives of those who care for them too. Contrary to what some people still believe, it is not something the person has any control over, nor is it often something an individual chooses to do.

In the beginning, a person is making a choice to drink; and there are many different reasons that people turn to alcohol. For some people it is a social habit, for others, they might choose to drink in order to escape from issues or people in their lives, and for some, research suggests that it could be in their genes or even something that is impacted by the first time they drank alcohol as a child.

Whatever the original motivating factor which caused a person to start drinking, once alcoholism kicks in, they lose control over what they ‘want’ to do, and everything they do becomes secondary to their alcohol addiction.

In this post, we explain the different stages of alcoholism in detail. So, if you want to know how to help an alcoholic and find out about getting help for a loved one or friend who might be at any of the stages of alcoholism we will discuss, then you are in the right place, and help is close by.

Booking a session with an addiction coach is quick, it’s easy, and it’s affordable. You can do that here today.

What Are the Five Stages of Alcohol Addiction?

Knowing the different stages of alcoholism can help you try to prevent an early issue with alcohol from developing into something more serious. If a person you love is developing an alcohol addiction or you are concerned that your own drinking habits are spiraling out of control, recognizing the signs of alcohol dependency as early as possible can prevent further harm being done, and will facilitate a speedier road to recovery as long as the right help is sought out for overcoming this addiction.

Stage 1 of Alcohol Addiction – Binge Drinking and Only Occasional Alcohol Abuse

The very initial stage of alcohol addiction is typically when a person experiments with alcohol. This is where they will seek to test their limits and experiment with different types of alcohol. Young adults are notoriously curious about alcohol and the different effects that the various types of drinks will have on them. Binge drinking is also something that is typically linked to the first stage of alcoholism, and while a person might not necessarily on a regular basis when they are drinking, they are likely to want to consume excessively large amounts of alcohol in a single evening or in a short space of time.

What is the definition of binge drinking?

There are many different ways that various organizations define binge drinking. Because everybody’s tolerance levels to alcohol are different, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. On one very popular alcohol addiction website, it is defined as when a person consumes 4-5 drinks within a couple of hours. However, the Office of National Statistics suggests that taking a unit-based approach is more appropriate, suggesting that for a man, 8 units in one drinking session, and for a woman, 6 units, are both considered to be excessive.

When you consider some social events, parties or anything else where the consumption of alcohol is a primary activity; you can appreciate just how easy it is to fall into the category of binge drinking or drinking to excess.

Anytime you drink a large amount of alcohol; it can be dangerous for your body. Some people start to develop a dependency on alcohol as they seek to replicate the feeling they get from drinking. As these instances and episodes of binge drinking become more commonplace, this could lead a person into the second stage of alcoholism.

If you have concerns about alcohol addiction and feel you would benefit from booking a session with an addiction coach, you can do that here today.

Stage 2 of Alcohol Addiction – Drinking Habits Increase

When a person leaves stage 1 of alcoholism, they are no longer experimenting, and their consumption of alcohol starts to occur more frequently. Rather than simply drinking socially, a person will start to engage in a more regular pattern of drinking. An elevated intake of alcohol could occur for a number of reasons:

  1. To escape from any stress or problems
  2. Because they are bored
  3. As a reason to be social with friends or colleagues
  4. To prevent them from being alone or to combat sadness/depression

Moderate drinking and the regular and routine consumption of alcohol are two very different things. With regular alcohol use, there will typically be some form of emotional attachment, and the individual is using alcohol in order to feel better. Whereas with moderate drinking, this would usually take the form of having a drink to accompany a meal.

As a person drinks more, they increase their dependency on the substance and the risk of alcohol addiction increases.

Stage 3 of Alcohol Addiction – Drinking Because of Problems

Problems with alcohol that start to become frequent and uncontrollable will become problematic. A term that is frequently used to describe someone entering into stage 3 of alcoholism is that they are a ‘problem drinker.’ This means that the individual is starting to feel the impacts of their drinking habit in their everyday living.

Such impacts could include losing sleep, becoming more anxious or even starting to feel sad or depressed when they are not drinking. Heavy drinking might cause a person to feel sick, but because of the effects it has, this feeling of sickness is overlooked. With stage 3 alcoholism, people who drink are likely to drink and drive; they might start to engage in risky behaviors or even get on the wrong side of the law because of their drinking habits. Other social impacts may include a person becoming socially withdrawn: they might start to experience issues with their close relations, and their circle of friends might change

Stage 4 of Alcohol Addiction Alcoholic Dependency  

Being alcohol dependent and addicted to alcohol are two different things; someone can be dependent on drinking alcohol, yet not addicted. Alcoholic Dependency comes directly after stage 3 of alcohol addiction. When a person becomes dependent, they have developed an attachment that takes priority over their regular activities, and they are no longer in control of their habit.

Being dependant on alcohol also means that you have formed a level of tolerance to the substance, and it probably means that you will need to drink more in order to receive the same effects. As you can appreciate, any increase in the volume of alcohol intake can have severe impacts to a person’s health and wellbeing, not to mention the impact this increased drinking will have on a person’s family, their job, and their finances.

Other signs of stage 4 of alcohol addiction are withdrawal from drinking. Once a person becomes sober, they might also start to feel many of physical symptoms that are linked to this withdrawal; these include feeling nauseous, they might start sweating, get partial or full body tremors, become highly irritable, have an elevated heart rate and it is likely they will start to have trouble sleeping.

If you would like to talk with an alcohol addiction coach in complete confidentiality, you can call or email us today.

Stage 5 of Alcohol Addiction Uncontrollable Alcohol Addiction

The fifth and final stage of alcoholism is when a person becomes addicted. Once a person reaches this stage, drinking is no longer pleasurable, it is necessary. There is now a psychological and a physical desire for them to drink. People who are having alcohol addiction problems will all too often be unable to think about anything other than their next drink. They have a physical craving, and this could also lead on to other substance abuse habits. A person who is addicted to alcohol will drink it whenever and wherever they want to.


Depending on the article you read, you might hear that there are three or even four stages of alcoholism, we list five because this gives us the chance to explore the different levels of alcoholism in detail. As widely spread as the issue with alcoholism has become, and just as you are doing today, researching alcoholism and how to get help for someone who has an alcohol addiction is easier than ever before; however, we are still facing a global epidemic because so many people are not talking about their problems, and getting access to the addiction coaching for alcoholism they need.

Now you have learned about the stages of alcoholism in detail; you might want to take a look at another post we wrote about the signs of alcohol abuse, to help you be able to look at the emotional, social, and physical signals that are present when someone is addicted to alcohol.

Book your first alcohol addiction recovery session here today.