Alcoholism: Symptoms and Treatment. Stages of alcoholism

alcoholism in men

Alcoholism can rightfully be considered a problem of humanity. However, not everyone can accurately say when and how this disease can manifest itself. Meanwhile, alcoholism, like any other disease, has several stages.

In total there are 4 stages of alcoholism. Not only the duration and effectiveness of the treatment, but also the final result will depend on the degree of neglect and the situation in the patient's environment.

After all, many who have recovered even after a few years return to old habits.

This is not about treatment, but about the wrong approach to the root cause of this problem, the lack of knowledge of the characteristics of the patient's character, as well as insufficient psycho-emotional support for relatives and friends.

The initial stage of alcoholism: causes and treatment

Read more: what alcoholism is.

The first stage of alcoholism is not always perceived as the beginning of personality degradation and the progression of the disease as such. The treatment and its duration may depend on parameters such as:

  • Age of the patient;
  • Stage of the disease;
  • Emotional state and atmosphere in the family;
  • predisposition (inheritance);
  • Environment;
  • Stability / instability of the human psyche;
  • Perception of the problem, as such, not only by the patient, but also by all his friends and relatives;
  • Gender of the patient (male or female).
  • man drinking with friends
  • The alcohol doses are gradually increased;
  • Receiving strong drinks is also possible for a minor reason;
  • A person loses control, it is difficult to control movement, thoughts after drinking;
  • Aggression towards acquaintances and friends manifests itself more often;
  • Can not stop even after emptying the stomach of accumulated alcohol (vomiting);
  • There is a severe hangover with pain in the head;
  • So far, he reacts negatively to a hangover (refusal of alcohol);
  • Contradictions in actions and words, both in alcoholic intoxication and in the sober state;
  • Negative attitude towards alcoholics, he does not consider his problem important.

Treatment of the initial stage

treatment of the initial stage of alcoholism

Also, do not miss the effect of alcohol on all human organs. Therefore, understanding the problem will help research on:

  1. Diseases of the liver and pancreas (heaviness, nausea, vomiting, pain and colic, bloating, indigestion);
  2. Vegetovascular disease (swelling of the veins, heaviness in the legs, swelling and pain after a day);
  3. Hypertensive diseases (sudden pressure changes, loss of strength, severe headaches, nausea);
  4. Nervous disorders (headache, convulsions, swelling, irritability, sleep disturbances, hand clink, aggression, short temper).

How to determine the stage of alcoholism? You can't figure it out on your own, without the help of a qualified specialist. The first signs should alert you. Early diagnosis and treatment are the basis for successful productive treatment.

The second phase of alcoholism: what are the symptoms and methods of treatment

symptoms of alcoholism

The patient reacts sharply to criticism and observations from the outside, is aggressive and direct in expressions.

The degrees of alcoholism and their treatment vary from case to case. One will need more psychological help, the second will need difficult conditions and limits beyond which he cannot cross. However, one thing becomes obvious: you can't do without outside help. The second phase of alcohol addiction is treated through an integrated approach:

  1. Medicamentous cleansing of the body. An important step that allows you to get rid of accumulated toxins. The intoxication of the body in this case is high, and drugs allow not only to cope with the side effects of taking a large amount of alcohol, but also to accelerate the process of decomposition of ethanol in the blood plasma;
  2. Aversive treatment: Drugs are given intravenously to develop alcohol rejection. Often such drugs do not cause discomfort in a non-drinker. But the simultaneous intake of alcohol and such a drug causes vomiting, nausea, severe headaches and subconscious rejection;
  3. Help from a psychologist. After all manipulations are carried out with the patient's body, the brain has been freed from the effects of ethanol, it is time to proceed to the main stage of treatment - psychological assistance and adaptation to normal life.

The duration of such treatment is an individual characteristic of the patient. At this stage, it is important to identify the root causes of alcohol cravings.

After all, the effect of drugs will not reduce psycho-emotional dependence on relaxation, which can be achieved by drinking alcohol.

This stage and its effectiveness completely depend on the professionalism of the doctor and the willingness to accept the result of all relatives. Only in this case it is possible to avoid the recurrence of the disease.

The third phase of alcoholism: the problem of society and beyond

alcoholism in the third stage

The third stage of alcoholism is no longer a problem only for the family and the patient's inner circle. This is a problem of the whole society: a person degrades himself, violates all existing norms and rules of communication, does not respond to comments and requests from loved ones, is a factor of "weight" for the family. Indeed, often the 3rd stage of alcoholism forces a person to refuse work, to neglect the wishes of relatives and friends. This means that such a patient is unable to provide the purchase of expensive alcoholic beverages. As a result, funds, expensive equipment, and food are stolen from the home. In addition, the third stage of alcoholism is accompanied by additional characteristics such as:

  • Appearance deformation: thin arms and legs, broad torso and abdomen, burgundy or gray skin with obvious obstructions of the veins, swelling in any condition on all limbs and under the eyes, tooth loss, blackening;
  • The psyche is disturbed: inadequate reaction to simple things, reluctance to contact, aggression for no reason, reluctance to change something;
  • Alcohol is the basis of the diet, replacing all healthy human nutrition. How much a person can drink depends in part on his configuration;
  • Speech distortion;
  • Paralysis of some parts of the body, most often of the face, arms, legs;
  • Health problems: hepatitis, chronic pancreatitis, cancer, food indigestion, urinary and fecal incontinence;
  • Resistance to alcohol (less doses, but more often).

Drinking alcohol before and during pregnancy

Treating alcoholism at this stage is a difficult and not always effective task. This is due, first of all, to the complete deformation of the human psyche, the re-evaluation of its values and priorities in life.

Often such an addict does not set himself goals, except for extracting the next portion of alcohol.

However, all three early stages of alcoholism can only be treated if this problem is addressed correctly.

What stages are difficult to treat

which stages of alcoholism are difficult to treat

An important sign of the third stage of alcoholism is the danger to human life: 80% die even after treatment due to many years of intoxication of the body and irreversible processes of changes in internal organs. The exhaustion of heart tissue, vascular deformity, chronic diseases of the liver, kidneys and pancreas (in women also the reproductive system) create dangerous conditions for a quality future life of the healed. Support for the most affected organs after treatment is the main task.

The last stage of alcoholism: no options

the last stage of alcoholism leads to death

Alcoholism is an insidious disease. It sneaks up on you at the moment when it seems the whole world is up in arms against you. Often the early stages of an alcoholic illness are skipped, not perceived as a real problem. And then the progression and speed of development of complications are inevitable. Years can pass from the moment of transition from the first phase to the fourth.

When the first signs are not identified and skipped, the complexity of the cure increases every day. Alcoholism in the developmental stage of the fourth degree is quite a sentence. Life counts for months and weeks.

The body is completely exhausted, and the organs can no longer cope with the basic functions of metabolism. But not a sentence exclusively for the sick.

This is a diagnosis for those who could not help in time, lend a hand, not perceive the disease as a problem.

Unfortunately, in the fourth stage, it is no longer possible to help. The patient is not amenable to persuasion or hospitalization. Worse still, the person from Stage 4 in front of you has nothing to do with the person you've ever met.

His brain is so distorted by alcohol that it is impossible to recognize it in a person you knew. Complete degradation of the subconscious, the basic instincts are replaced by new ones (drinking). Even a professional psychologist and hypnosis will not help get rid of the problem.

Alcoholism is a disease. This is important to remember. Remember and know what can be done to avoid the unenviable fate of an alcoholic, from whom all relatives and friends have departed, having previously deleted him from the world of the living.


Alcoholism is a disease that is manifested by the systematic abuse of alcohol, characterized by mental dependence from intoxication, somatic and neurological disorders, personality degradation. The disease can also progress to alcohol withdrawal.

In the CIS, 14% of the adult population abuses alcohol and another 80% drinks alcohol moderately, due to some drinking traditions that have developed in society.

Factors such as conflicts with relatives, an unsatisfactory standard of living and the inability to fulfill oneself in life often lead to abuse. At a young age, alcohol is used as a way to feel inner comfort, courage and overcome shyness. In middle age, it is used as a way to relieve fatigue, stress and get away from social problems.

Constant use of this method of relaxation leads to persistent addiction and the inability to feel inner comfort without alcohol intoxication. According to the degree of dependence and the symptoms, different stages of alcoholism are distinguished.

Stages of alcoholism

The first stage of alcoholism

The first stage of the disease is characterized by an increase in doses and the frequency of alcohol intake. There is an impaired reactivity syndrome, in which alcohol tolerance changes. Protective reactions of the body against overdose disappear, in particular, there is no vomiting when drinking large doses of alcohol.

With severe intoxication, palimpsests are observed - memory lapses. Psychological addiction is manifested by a feeling of dissatisfaction in a sober state, constant thoughts about alcohol, elevated mood before drinking alcohol.

The first stage lasts from 1 to 5 years, while the attraction is controllable, as there is no physical dependence syndrome. A person does not degrade and does not lose the ability to work.

Complications of alcoholism of the first stage are manifested mainly in the liver, alcoholic fatty degeneration occurs.

Clinically, it almost does not manifest itself, in some cases there may be a feeling of fullness in the stomach, flatulence, diarrhea. A complication can be diagnosed by an increase and thick consistency of the liver.

On palpation, the edge of the liver is rounded, it is somewhat sensitive. With withdrawal, these symptoms disappear.

Complications of the pancreas are acute and chronic pancreatitis. At the same time, abdominal pains are noted, which are localized to the left and radiate to the back, as well as decreased appetite, nausea, flatulence and unstable stools.

Often, alcohol abuse leads to alcoholic gastritis, in which there is not even appetite and nausea, pain in the epigastric region.

Second phase

Second stage alcoholism has a progression period of 5 to 15 years and is characterized by an increase in the syndrome of altered reactivity.

Alcohol tolerance reaches its maximum, so-called pseudo-binge drinking occurs, their frequency is not associated with the patient's attempts to get rid of alcohol addiction, but with external circumstances, for example, lack of money and inability to take alcohol.

drunk man

The sedative effect of alcohol is replaced by an activating one, memory lapses when drinking large amounts of alcohol are replaced by complete amnesia of the end of intoxication. At the same time, daily drunkenness is explained by the presence of a mental addiction syndrome; in a sober state, the patient loses the capacity for mental work and mental activity is disorganized. There is a physical alcohol dependence syndrome, which suppresses all feelings except the craving for alcohol, which becomes uncontrollable. The patient is depressed, irritable, unable to work, after taking alcohol, these functions return to their place, but control over the amount of alcohol is lost, which leads to excessive intoxication.

Treatment of alcoholism in the second stage should be carried out in a specialized hospital, narcologist or psychiatrist.

A sharp refusal of alcohol causes somatoneurologic symptoms of alcoholism such as exophthalmos, mydriasis, upper body hyperemia, finger tremor, nausea, vomiting, intestinal indulgence, heart pain, liver and headache.

There are mental symptoms of personality degradation, weakening of the intellect, delusional ideas. Often there is anxiety, night anxiety, convulsive seizures, which are precursors of acute psychosis - delirium tremens, popularly called delirium tremens.

Complications of second-degree alcoholism from the side of the liver are represented by alcoholic hepatitis, often of a chronic form. The disease is more common in a persistent than in a progressive form.

Like first-degree complications, hepatitis rarely presents with clinical symptoms. It is possible to diagnose a complication for gastrointestinal pathology, heaviness is observed in the epigastric region of the stomach, right hypochondrium, slight nausea, flatulence.

On palpation, the liver is firm, enlarged and slightly painful.

Alcoholic gastritis in the second stage of alcoholism can have symptoms masked as manifestations of withdrawal symptoms, the difference being painful repeated vomiting in the morning, often with an admixture of blood. On palpation, there is pain in the epigastric region.

After prolonged binges, acute alcoholic myopathy develops, weakness, swelling of the muscles of the hips and shoulders appear. Alcoholism most often causes non-ischemic heart disease.

Third stage

Alcoholism of the third stage is significantly different from the previous two, the duration of this stage is 5-10 years. This is the final stage of the disease, and as practice shows, it most often ends in death. Alcohol tolerance decreases, intoxication occurs after small doses of alcohol. The binges end in physical and psychological exhaustion.

a person in the third stage of alcoholism

In a state of intoxication, emotional instability manifests itself, which presents the symptoms of alcoholism, cheerfulness, irritability, anger unpredictably replace each other.

The deterioration of the personality, the decrease in intellectual abilities, the inability to work, lead to the fact that an alcoholic, having no money for alcohol, uses surrogates, sells things, steals. The use of such surrogates as denatured alcohol, cologne, enamel, etc. It leads to serious complications.

Complications in third stage alcoholism are often represented by alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. There are two forms of alcoholic cirrhosis: compensated and decompensated form.

The first form of the disease is characterized by persistent anorexia nervosa, flatulence, fatigue, a little apathetic mood. There is a thinning of the skin, white spots and varicose veins appear on them.

The liver is enlarged, dense, has a sharp edge.

The patient's appearance changes markedly, there is a sharp loss of weight, hair loss. The decompensated form of liver cirrhosis differs in three types of clinical symptoms.

These include portal hypertension, which leads to hemorrhoidal and esophageal bleeding, ascites - accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity. Often there is jaundice, in which the liver is very enlarged, in severe cases liver failure occurs, with the development of coma.

The patient has an increased content of melanin, which gives the skin a jaundice or earthy tint.

Alcoholism Diagnosis

The diagnosis of alcoholism can be suspected from a person's appearance and behavior. Patients seem older than their years, with the passing of the years the face becomes hyperemic, the skin turgor is lost. The face acquires a special kind of volitional promiscuity, due to the relaxation of the circular muscle of the mouth. In many cases there is impurity, neglect in clothing.

The diagnosis of alcoholism in most cases turns out to be quite accurate, even analyzing not the patient himself, but his environment. Family members of a patient with alcoholism have a range of psychosomatic disorders, neuroticization or psychoticization of a spouse who does not drink, and pathologies in children.

The most common pathology in children whose parents systematically abuse alcohol is congenital brain failure. Often these children have excessive mobility, are not focused, have a desire for destruction and aggressive behavior.

In addition to the congenital pathology, the development of the child is also influenced by the traumatic situation of the family. Children have logoneurosis, bedwetting, night terrors, and behavioral disturbances.

Children are depressed, prone to suicide attempts, often have difficulties in learning and communicating with peers.

In many cases, pregnant women who abuse alcohol experience the birth of an alcoholic fetus. Fetal alcohol syndrome is characterized by severe morphological disorders. Most often, the pathology of the fetus consists of the irregular shape of the head, the proportions of the body, the spherical and sunken eyes, the underdevelopment of the jaw bones and the shortening of the tubular bones.

Alcoholism treatment

We have already briefly described the treatment of alcoholism according to its stages. In most cases, relapses can occur after treatment.

This is due to the fact that treatment is often aimed only at eliminating the most acute manifestations of alcoholism. Without properly conducted psychotherapy, lack of support from loved ones, alcoholism recurs.

But as practice shows, it is psychotherapy that is an important component of treatment.

treatment of alcoholism in the clinic

The first stage of alcoholism treatment is the elimination of acute and subacute conditions caused by intoxication of the body. First of all, the binge is stopped and withdrawal disorders are eliminated. In the later stages, therapy is carried out only under the supervision of medical personnel, since the delirium syndrome that occurs when alcohol consumption is stopped requires psychotherapy and a series of sedatives. The relief of acute alcoholic psychosis is to make the patient fall asleep quickly with dehydration and support for the cardiovascular system. In case of severe alcohol intoxication, alcoholism treatment is carried out only in specialized hospitals or psychiatric wards. In the initial stages, anti-alcohol treatment may be sufficient, but more often when alcohol is abandoned, there is a deficit of neuroendocrine regulation, the disease progresses and leads to complications and organ pathologies.

The second phase of treatment aims to establish remission. Comprehensive diagnosis of the patient and therapy of mental and somatic disorders is performed. Therapy in the second stage of treatment can be quite peculiar, its main task is to eliminate somatic disorders, which are fundamental in the formation of pathological craving for alcohol.

Non-standard methods of therapy include the Rozhnov technique, which consists in the therapy of emotional stress. A good prognosis in treatment is given by the hypnotic effect and the psychotherapeutic conversations that precede it.

During hypnosis, the patient is instilled with an aversion to alcohol, a reaction of nausea and vomiting to the taste and smell of alcohol. The method of verbal aversion therapy is often used.

It consists in setting the psyche with the method of verbal suggestion, responding with a vomiting reaction to the consumption of alcohol, even in an imaginary situation.

The third phase of treatment involves prolonging remission and returning to a normal lifestyle. This stage can be considered the most important in the successful treatment of alcoholism. After the previous two stages, a person returns to his former society, to his problems, to friends, who in most cases are also addicted to alcohol, to family conflicts.

This has a greater effect on the relapse of the disease. In order for a person to independently eliminate the external causes and symptoms of alcoholism, long-term psychotherapy is required. A positive effect is given by autogenic training, they are widely used for group therapies.

The training consists in the normalization of autonomic disorders and the removal of emotional stress after treatment.

Behavior therapy is used, the so-called lifestyle correction. A person learns to live in a sober state, to solve her problems, acquiring the ability of self-control. A very important step in restoring normal life is achieving mutual understanding in the family and understanding their problem.

For successful treatment, it is important to get the patient a desire to get rid of alcohol addiction. Compulsory treatment does not give the same results as voluntary treatment.

However, refusal of treatment requires the local narcologist to forcibly refer the patient for treatment at the LTP.

Therapy in the general medical network does not give positive results, as the patient has free access to alcohol, receives visits from drunk friends, etc.

In the event that alcohol abuse began in adulthood, an individual approach is required in the choice of therapy. This is due to the fact that the somato-neurological symptoms of alcoholism appear long before the onset of addiction and mental disorders.

Mortality in alcoholism is often associated with complications. There is a decompensation of the vital organs caused by the prolonged consumption of alcohol, states of abstinence, intercurrent illnesses.

20% of elderly patients with alcoholism have signs of epilepsy, acute Gaye-Wernicke syndrome is somewhat less common. Attacks of both diseases during intoxication can be fatal.

The presence of alcoholic cardiomyopathy significantly worsens the prognosis. Continued systematic consumption of alcohol leads to mortality.

Less than 25% of patients with this complication live more than three years after diagnosis. A high percentage of deaths from alcohol intoxication are due to suicide.

This is facilitated by the development of chronic hallucinosis, alcoholic paraphrenia, delusions of jealousy.

The patient is unable to control delusional thoughts and commits unusual acts in a sober state.