Alcoholism: symptoms and treatment. stages of alcoholism

alcoholism in men

Alcoholism can rightly be considered a problem for humanity. However, not everyone can accurately tell 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 revert to old habits.

It is not a treatment, but a misguided approach to the main cause of this problem, the lack of knowledge of the patient's character characteristics, as well as insufficient psycho-emotional support from relatives and friends.

The early stage of alcoholism: causes and treatment

Read more: what is alcoholism.

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

  • Patient's age;
  • Disease stage;
  • Emotional state and atmosphere in the family;
  • Predisposition (heredity);
  • 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 family;
  • Patient gender (male or female).
  • man drinking with friends
  • Alcohol doses are gradually increased;
  • Reception of strong drinks is possible even for a minor reason;
  • A person loses control, it is difficult to control movement, thoughts after drinking;
  • Aggression towards acquaintances and friends is most often manifested;
  • Cannot stop even after emptying stomach of accumulated alcohol (vomiting);
  • There is a severe hangover with headache;
  • So far, he reacts negatively to a hangover (alcohol rejection);
  • Contradictions in actions and words, both in alcohol intoxication and in the state of sobriety;
  • Negative attitude towards alcoholics, does not consider their problem important.

Initial phase treatment

treatment of early stage alcoholism

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

  1. Liver and pancreas diseases (heaviness, nausea, vomiting, pain and cramps, bloating, indigestion);
  2. Vegetovascular disease (swelling of the veins, heaviness in the legs, swelling and pain after one day);
  3. Hypertensive diseases (sudden jumps in blood pressure, loss of strength, severe headaches, nausea);
  4. Nervous disorders (headaches, convulsions, swelling, irritability, sleep disturbances, hand noise, aggression, irascibility).

How to determine the stage of alcoholism? You cannot figure this out on your own without the help of a qualified specialist. The first signs should alert you. Early diagnosis and treatment are the foundation for successful productive treatment.

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

alcoholism symptoms

The patient reacts sharply to outside criticism and comments, is aggressive and direct in expressions.

The degrees of alcoholism and its treatment vary from case to case. One will need more psychological help, the second will need difficult conditions and boundaries beyond which he cannot cross. However, one thing becomes obvious: one cannot do without outside help. The second phase of alcohol dependence is addressed through an integrated approach:

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

How long this treatment can last is an individual patient characteristic. At this stage, it is important to identify the main causes of craving for alcohol.

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

This step and its effectiveness depend completely on the physician's professionalism and the willingness of all family members to accept the result. Only in this case it is possible to prevent the recurrence of the disease.

The third stage of alcoholism: the problem of society and not just

third stage alcoholism

The third stage of alcoholism is no longer just a problem for the patient's family and close circle. This is a problem for the whole of 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 "weight" factor for the family. In fact, 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 not able to provide for 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 features such as:

  • Deformed appearance: thin arms and legs, large trunk and abdomen, burgundy or gray skin with obvious blockages of veins, swelling in any condition in all limbs and under the eyes, loss of teeth, darkening;
  • The psyche is disturbed: inappropriate reaction to simple things, unwillingness to make contact, aggression without reason, unwillingness to change anything;
  • Alcohol is the basis of the diet, replacing all healthy human food. How much a person can drink depends in part on their setup;
  • Speech distortion;
  • Paralysis of certain parts of the body, most often of the face, arms, legs;
  • Health issues: hepatitis, chronic pancreatitis, cancer, food indigestion, urinary and fecal incontinence;
  • Alcohol resistance (fewer doses, but more often).

Drinking alcohol before and during pregnancy

The treatment of alcoholism at this stage is a difficult task and not always effective. This is due, in the first place, to the complete deformation of the human psyche, to the reassessment of its values and priorities in life.

Often, this addict does not set goals other than extracting the next helping of alcohol.

However, all the first three stages of alcoholism can only be treated if this issue is addressed correctly.

Which 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 depletion of cardiac tissue, vascular deformity, chronic diseases of the liver, kidneys and pancreas (in women, also the reproductive system) create dangerous conditions for a future life of quality of the cured. 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. She sneaks in at the moment when it seems like the whole world is at gunpoint against you. Often, the early stages of an alcoholic illness are ignored, not perceived as a real problem. And then the progression and speed of development of complications is inevitable. Years can pass from the moment of transition from the first stage to the fourth.

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

The body is completely exhausted and the organs can no longer handle 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 perceiving the disease as a problem.

Unfortunately, in the fourth step, it is no longer possible to help. The patient is not amenable to persuasion or hospitalization. Worst of all, the Stage 4 person in front of you has nothing to do with the person you once knew.

Your brain is so distorted by alcohol that it's impossible to recognize it in a person you've met. Complete degradation of the subconscious, basic instincts are replaced by new ones (drink). Even a professional psychologist and hypnosis will not help to 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 turned away, having previously excluded him from the world of the living.


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

In the CIS, 14% of the adult population abuse alcohol and another 80% drink alcohol moderately, which is due to certain consumption traditions that have developed in society.

Factors such as conflicts with relatives, unsatisfactory standard of living and inability to fulfill themselves in life often lead to abuse. At a young age, alcohol is used as a way of feeling inner comfort, courage and overcoming shyness. In middle age, it is used as a way to relieve fatigue, stress and escape from social problems.

Constant recourse to 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 symptoms, various 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 the doses and frequency of alcohol intake. There is an altered reactivity syndrome, in which alcohol tolerance changes. The 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 dependence is manifested by a feeling of dissatisfaction in a sober state, constant thoughts about alcohol, elevating mood before drinking alcohol.

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

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

On palpation, the edge of the liver is rounded, it is a little tender. With abstinence, these symptoms disappear.

Complications of the pancreas are acute and chronic pancreatitis. At the same time, abdominal pain is observed, located on the left and radiating to the back, as well as decreased appetite, nausea, flatulence and unstable stools.

Often, alcohol abuse leads to alcoholic gastritis, in which there is also no appetite and nausea, pain in the epigastric region.

second stage

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

Alcohol tolerance reaches its maximum, the so-called pseudo-binge drinking occurs, its 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 obtain alcohol.

drunk man

The sedative effect of alcohol is replaced by an activator, 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 dependence syndrome; in a sober state, the patient loses the ability to work mentally and mental activity is disorganized. There is a syndrome of physical dependence on alcohol, which suppresses all feelings except the craving for alcohol, which becomes uncontrollable. The patient becomes depressed, irritable, unable to work, after drinking alcohol, these functions return to their place, but control over the amount of alcohol is lost, which leads to excessive intoxication.

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

Acute alcohol refusal causes somatoneurological symptoms of alcoholism such as exophthalmos, mydriasis, upper body hyperemia, finger tremor, nausea, vomiting, intestinal indulgence, heart and liver pain, and headaches.

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

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

As with first-degree complications, hepatitis is rarely manifested by clinical symptoms. It is possible to diagnose a complication by gastrointestinal pathology, heaviness appears in the epigastric region of the stomach, right hypochondrium, mild nausea, flatulence is observed.

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

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

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

third stage

Third stage alcoholism 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, most often ends in death. Alcohol tolerance decreases, intoxication occurs after small doses of alcohol. The binge ends with physical and psychological exhaustion.

a person in the third stage of alcoholism

In a state of intoxication, emotional instability is manifested, which presents the symptoms of alcoholism, joy, irritability, anger unpredictably replace each other.

Personality degradation, decreased intellectual abilities, inability to work, lead to the fact that an alcoholic, without money for alcohol, uses substitutes, sells things, steals. The use of substitutes such as denatured alcohol, cologne, polish, etc. leads to serious complications.

Complications in third-stage alcoholism are most 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 spider veins appear on them.

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

The patient's appearance changes a lot, there is a strong weight loss, 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. There is often jaundice, in which the liver is greatly enlarged; in severe cases, liver failure occurs, with the development of coma.

The patient has an increased melanin content, which gives the skin a jaundiced or earthy hue.

diagnosis of alcoholism

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

The diagnosis of alcoholism in most cases ends up being quite accurate, even analyzing not the patient himself, but his environment. Relatives of a patient with alcoholism have various psychosomatic disorders, neurotization or psychotization of a non-drinking spouse and pathologies in children.

The most common pathology in children whose parents systematically abuse alcohol is congenital brain failure. Often these children are excessively mobile, unfocused, have a desire for destruction and aggressive behavior.

In addition to congenital pathology, the child's development is also affected by the traumatic situation in the family. Children have logoneurosis, enuresis, 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 gross morphological disorders. Most often, the pathology of the fetus consists of the irregular shape of the head, body proportions, deep spherical eyes, underdevelopment of the jaw bones and shortening of the tubular bones.

alcoholism treatment

We have already briefly described the treatment of alcoholism in terms of its stages. In most cases, relapse can occur after treatment.

This is due to the fact that treatment is often only aimed 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.

alcoholism treatment in clinic

The first step in treating alcoholism is eliminating the acute and subacute conditions caused by intoxication from the body. First, the binge is stopped and withdrawal disorders are eliminated. In later stages, therapy is carried out only under the supervision of medical personnel, as the delirium syndrome that occurs when drinking is stopped requires psychotherapy and various sedatives. Relief of acute alcoholic psychosis is to quickly put the patient to sleep with dehydration and support for the cardiovascular system. In cases of severe alcohol intoxication, treatment of alcoholism is carried out only in specialized hospitals or psychiatric departments. In the early stages, anti-alcohol treatment may be sufficient, but more often when alcohol is given up, there is a deficit of neuroendocrine regulation, the disease progresses and leads to complications and organ pathology.

The second stage of treatment is aimed at establishing remission. A complete diagnosis of the patient and therapy of mental and somatic disorders is performed. Therapy at the second stage of treatment can be quite peculiar, its main task is to eliminate somatic disorders, which are fundamental in the formation of the pathological desire for alcohol.

Non-standard methods of therapy include the Rozhnov technique, which consists of emotional stress therapy. 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 vomiting and nauseated reaction to the taste and smell of alcohol. The verbal aversive therapy method is often used.

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

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

This has a greater effect on disease recurrence. In order for a person to be able 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.

Training consists of normalizing autonomic disturbances and removing emotional stress after treatment.

Behavioral therapy, so-called lifestyle correction, is used. A person learns to live in a state of sobriety, to solve his problems, acquiring the skill of self-control. A very important step in the restoration of normal life is the achievement of mutual understanding in the family and understanding of their problem.

For the success of the treatment, it is important to obtain from the patient the desire to get rid of alcohol dependence. Mandatory treatment does not give the same results as voluntary treatment.

But still, refusing treatment requires the local narcologist to forcibly refer the patient for treatment at LTP.

Therapy in the general medical network does not give positive results, as the patient has open access to alcohol, is visited by drunk friends, etc.

In the event that alcohol abuse began in adulthood, an individual approach to the choice of therapy is required. 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 most often associated with complications. There is a decompensation of vital organs caused by prolonged drinking, withdrawal states, intercurrent illnesses.

20% of elderly patients with alcoholism show 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.