Stages of Alcoholism | New Life Spirit Recovery

The Stages of Alcoholics

Alcoholism has many stages and symptoms. It’s important to assess and understand the different levels involved that take a person from normal to problematic drinking behavior. For the most part, people begin to research Christian drug and alcohol treatment options because they are afraid or devastated by their own or someone else’s drinking. Usually, people start seeking answers when the problem becomes evident.


It can be far harder to identify drinking as a problem when it doesn’t completely overtake a person’s life. Many of us have heard the term “functional alcoholic.” This term is referring to someone who drinks but is still able to maintain a job, pay bills and handle the necessities of life. However, if you look more closely, you’ll find that alcohol still takes a toll on priorities and relationships in that person’s life.

No matter the stage, anytime alcohol creates problems in a person’s life, there is proof that help should be attained.


The level of support usually depends on the severity of the alcoholism. To better help assessment alcoholism, let’s take a look at different stages.

Stage 1: Experimental

Let’s face it: drinking is prevalent. We live in a society that condones and encourages a wide variety of drinking. The vast majority of people will experiment with alcohol at some point in their teenage or early adult life. Experimentation is normal behavior. We experiment with all sorts of preferences in life, and that doesn’t make it a moral crime. However, the content and reasons for the experimentation may help better define if it’s okay or leading into dangerous behavior and needs to be evaluated.


Drinking illegally or underage is always considered problem drinking. Drinking to escape or to accommodate social pressure, even on the first try, could be a strong indicator that it will lead to more problematic behavior.

Stage 2: Use

A person moves from the experimental stage to use when he or she begins to find some benefits, and thus continue to participates in drinking behaviors. Like the first stage, the reasons for this may vary and are telling how that person will stay in a relationship with alcohol. Those that begin to drink socially and responsibly may not have problems ever, and thus it will become a standard activity that isn’t overly used. For those with tendencies to experience a problem, this can be deceptive.


Two people can drink the same amount in the same amount of time; but over the years, they will enter two very different roads. The factors that determine who will have a problem and who will not vary. They can be related to family, genetics, emotional needs, trauma, coping, spiritual life, etc.

Stage 3: Risky Use

Once a person assumes risk in drinking, some problems will arise. Dangerous use may involve drinking too much, driving under the influence, and venturing into areas that go above and beyond a “few drinks.” These behaviors are where the patterns of harmful drinking take root. A person begins to drink and loses their sense of judgment. They seem unable to stop the desire to drink and seem not to be able to prevent the damage it could do. This lack of judgment is an indication that abuse may form.

Alcohol Abuse

The next stage in addiction is alcohol abuse. Abuse happens when a person continues to drink even though significant consequences are acquired. Abusers have formed a habit, but they can typically listen to reason still and may be able to receive intervention and help by understanding the risks and dangers involved. An alcohol abuser benefits from receiving treatment before dependency is acquired.


Alcohol abusers have chronic and reoccurring problems related to their drinking. They have been arrested for driving under the influence or may have had significant relationship problems as a result of unhealthy choices related to drinking. An abuser typically has a physical attachment to alcohol by this stage and is usually heading towards a complete dependency.

Who Is Alcohol Dependent?

While hard to distinguish in severity, alcohol dependency has some factors that cause it to be diagnosed as such. These are more accurate indications of a deeper problem. These symptoms include:


  • Tends to drink the same type of alcohol, and perhaps have that narrowed down to a brand.
  • Lives for the next drink.
  • Develops a tolerance for alcohol and thus need more to experience the effects.
  • Experiences serious withdrawal symptoms which may include tremors, sickness, mood swings and depression if they go a longer period without drinking.
  • Denies having a problem with their drinking and will protect it at all costs.
  • Attempts sobriety but is unable to do so.


If you or someone you love is alcohol dependent, it is strongly advised that they seek rehabilitation. Alcoholism takes a toll physically on a person, and in addition to destroying dreams, relationships, and hope, it can cause death. Know the symptoms of your situation and be willing to get help.

Treating Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a symptom of a deeper rooted problem. However, once in full swing, it will overtake a person’s life, relationship and physical well-being. At the core, we believe all addiction is a spiritual problem that requires a spiritual remedy. The 12 steps help implement a process of freedom; however, being able to understand the “why” in a person’s life is also vital.

Christ-centered intensive treatment is an affordable way to get to the rooted issues and to overcome the vicious cycle of alcoholism.