Alcoholism: symptoms and treatment. Stages of alcoholism

alcoholism in men

Alcoholism can rightfully be considered a problem of humanity. However, no one can say exactly when and how this disease may manifest itself. Meanwhile, alcoholism, like any other disease, consists of several stages.

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

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

It is not a question of treatment, but of a wrong approach to the root cause of this problem, not knowing the characteristics of the patient's character, as well as not providing enough psycho-emotional support to relatives and friends.

The initial stage of alcoholism: causes and treatment

Read more: what is alcoholism.

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

  • Age of the patient;
  • The stage of the disease;
  • Emotional situation and atmosphere in the family;
  • Predisposition (heredity);
  • Environment;
  • The stability/constancy of the human psyche;
  • Awareness of the problem not only by the patient, but also by all his friends and relatives;
  • Gender of the patient (male or female).
  • a man drinking with friends
  • Doses of alcohol gradually increase;
  • Taking strong drinks is possible even for a small reason;
  • A person loses control, it is difficult to control movement, thoughts after drinking;
  • Aggression against acquaintances and friends manifests itself more often;
  • Accumulated alcohol cannot stop even after emptying the stomach (vomiting);
  • There is a severe hangover with headache;
  • So far, he is reacting negatively to the hangover (alcohol withdrawal);
  • Contradictions in actions and words both in alcoholic intoxication and in a sober state;
  • A negative attitude towards alcoholics does not consider his problem important.

Treatment of the initial stage

treatment of the initial stage of alcoholism

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

  1. Diseases of the liver and pancreas (heaviness, nausea, vomiting, pain and colic, swelling, indigestion);
  2. Vegetovascular disease (swelling of blood vessels, heaviness in the legs, swelling and pain after a day);
  3. Hypertensive diseases (sudden jumps in pressure, loss of strength, severe headaches, nausea);
  4. Nervous disorders (headache, convulsions, swelling, nervousness, sleep disturbance, hand tremors, aggressiveness, nervousness).

How to determine the stage of alcoholism? You cannot figure it out yourself without the help of a qualified specialist. The first signs should alert you. Early diagnosis and treatment are the basis of successful treatment.

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

signs of alcoholism

The patient reacts sharply to criticism and remarks from outside, is aggressive and straightforward in his statements.

The degrees of alcoholism and their treatment vary depending on the situation. One will need more psychological help, the second will not be able to overcome difficult conditions and limits. But one thing is clear: you cannot do without outside help. The second stage of alcohol addiction is treated with an integrated approach:

  1. Cleansing the body with medicine. An important step that allows you to get rid of accumulated toxins. In this case, the intoxication of the body is high, and the drugs allow not only to fight the side effects of consuming large amounts of alcohol, but also to accelerate the process of breaking down ethanol in the blood plasma;
  2. Aversive treatment - drugs are given intravenously to promote abstinence from alcohol. Often such drugs do not cause discomfort in a person who does not drink. However, the simultaneous intake of alcohol and such a drug causes vomiting, nausea, severe headaches and rejection at the subconscious level;
  3. The help of a psychologist. After all manipulations with the patient's body were carried out, the brain was freed from the influence of ethanol, it was time to move on to the main stage of treatment - psychological assistance and adaptation to normal life.

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

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

This stage and its effectiveness depend entirely on the doctor's professionalism and the willingness of all relatives to accept the result. Only in this case, the recurrence of the disease can be prevented.

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

alcoholism in the third stage

The third stage of alcoholism is no longer a problem only for the patient's family and close circle. This is the problem of the whole society: a person is humiliated, violates all existing norms and rules of communication, does not respond to comments and wishes of loved ones, is a "burden" factor for the family. Indeed, often the 3rd stage of alcoholism forces a person to refuse work, neglect the wishes of relatives and friends. This means that such a patient cannot afford the purchase of expensive alcoholic beverages. As a result, money, expensive equipment and food are stolen from the house. Also, the third stage of alcoholism is accompanied by additional features such as:

  • Deformation of appearance: thin arms and legs, large trunk and abdomen, dark red or gray skin with open blockage of veins, swelling in all limbs and under the eyes in any position, loss of teeth, darkening;
  • Psyche is disturbed: inadequate reaction to simple things, unwillingness to communicate, unreasoned aggression, unwillingness to change anything;
  • Alcohol is the basis of the diet, replacing all healthy human foods. How much a person can drink depends partly on their configuration;
  • Distortion of speech;
  • Paralysis of certain parts of the body, more often the face, arms, legs;
  • Health problems: hepatitis, chronic pancreatitis, cancer, food indigestion, incontinence;
  • Alcohol resistance (less doses, but more often).

Drinking alcohol before and during pregnancy

Treatment of alcoholism at this stage is difficult and not always effective. First of all, this is due to the complete deformation of the human psyche, reassessment of its life values and priorities.

Often, such an addict does not have any goals, except to withdraw the next portion of alcohol.

But all the first three stages of alcoholism can be treated only if this issue is approached 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. Depletion of heart tissue, vascular deformation, chronic diseases of the liver, kidneys and pancreas (in women, as well as the reproductive system) create dangerous conditions for the future life of those treated. After treatment, the main task is to support the most affected organs.

The final stage of alcoholism: there is no choice

the final stage of alcoholism results in death

Alcoholism is an insidious disease. When it seems the whole world is up in arms against you, he sneaks away. Often, the first stages of alcoholism are skipped, not perceived as a real problem. And then the development and speed of complications is inevitable. Years may pass from the moment of transition from the first stage to the fourth stage.

If the first signs are not identified and not skipped, the complexity of treatment increases every day. In the fourth stage of development, alcoholism is more of a sentence. Life is counted in months and weeks.

The body is completely exhausted and the organs can no longer cope with the basic functions of metabolism. But a sentence that is said only for patients.

This is a diagnosis for those who cannot help in time, who cannot give a helping hand, who do not perceive the disease as a problem.

Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to help with the fourth stage. He is unable to convince or hospitalize the patient. The worst part is that the 4th stage in front of you has nothing to do with the person you know so far.

His brain is so damaged by alcohol that it is impossible to recognize him in a person you know. Complete degradation of the subconscious, the basic instincts are replaced by new ones (drinking). 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 unbearable fate of an alcoholic person, who turns away from him all relatives and friends, preemptively excludes him from the living world.


Alcoholism is a disease characterized by mental dependence, somatic and neurological disorders, and personality degradation, caused by systematic abuse of alcohol. The disease can also develop with alcohol withdrawal.

In the CIS, 14% of the adult population abuses alcohol, and another 80% consume alcohol at a moderate level, which is due to certain drinking traditions formed in the society.

Factors such as conflicts with relatives, unsatisfactory standard of living, lack of self-awareness in life often lead to abuse. At a young age, alcohol is used to feel inner comfort, courage and to overcome shyness. It is used to relieve fatigue, stress, and get away from social problems in middle age.

Constant use of this method of relaxation leads to continuous dependence and the inability to feel inner peace without alcohol intoxication. Several stages of alcoholism are distinguished according to the degree of dependence and symptoms.

Stages of alcoholism

The first stage of alcoholism

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

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

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

Complications in first-stage alcoholism are primarily manifested 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, foam, diarrhea. A complication can be diagnosed with an increase in the liver and a dense consistency.

During palpation, the edge of the liver is rounded, slightly sensitive. With abstinence, these symptoms disappear.

Complications from the pancreas are acute and chronic pancreatitis. At the same time, abdominal pain localized on the left and spreading to the back, as well as loss of appetite, nausea, flatulence and unstable stools are noted.

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

The second stage

Alcoholism of the second stage has a development period of 5 to 15 years and is characterized by an increase in the altered reactivity syndrome.

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

drunk man

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

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

Acute withdrawal from alcohol causes somatoneurological symptoms of alcoholism, such as exophthalmos, mydriasis, hyperemia of the upper body, tremors of the fingers, nausea, vomiting, intestinal motility, heart, liver and headaches.

There are mental symptoms of personality degradation, weakening of intellect, delusional thoughts. Frequent anxiety, night restlessness, convulsive seizures that are precursors of acute psychosis - delirium tremens, popularly called delirium tremens.

Complications of secondary alcoholism from the side of the liver are often represented by chronic alcoholic hepatitis. The disease is more persistent than progressive.

Like primary complications, hepatitis rarely presents with clinical symptoms. It is possible to diagnose a complication with the pathology of the gastrointestinal tract, heaviness appears in the epigastric region of the stomach, the right hypochondrium, mild nausea, flatulence are observed.

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

In the second stage of alcoholism, alcoholic gastritis can have symptoms that are masked as a manifestation of withdrawal symptoms, the difference is repeated painful vomiting with a mixture of blood in the morning. During palpation, pain is felt in the epigastric region.

After prolonged drinking, acute alcoholic myopathy develops, weakness and swelling appear in the muscles of the hips and shoulders. Alcoholism is the most common cause of non-ischemic heart disease.

The 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 experience shows, often ends in death. Alcohol tolerance decreases, intoxication occurs after small doses of alcohol. Binges end in physical and psychological exhaustion.

a person in the third stage of alcoholism

In the state of intoxication, emotional instability manifests itself, which presents signs of alcoholism, cheerfulness, irritability, anger, unexpectedly replacing each other.

Degradation of the personality, reduction of intellectual abilities, loss of working capacity causes the alcoholic to use surrogates without money for alcohol, to sell things, to steal. Denatured alcohol, cologne, varnish, etc. the use of surrogates causes 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, low apathetic mood. There is thinning of the skin, white spots and spider veins appear on them.

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

The patient's appearance changes a lot, there is a sharp weight loss, hair loss. The decompensated form of liver cirrhosis is distinguished by three types of clinical signs.

These include portal hypertension, which causes hemorrhoidal and esophageal bleeding, ascites - accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity. There is often jaundice, with the liver greatly enlarged, and in severe cases, liver failure occurs with the development of coma.

The patient has an increased content of melanin, which gives the skin an icteric or earthy color.

Diagnosis of alcoholism

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

In most cases, the diagnosis of alcoholism is quite accurate when analyzing the environment, not the patient himself. Family members of a patient suffering from alcoholism have a number of psychosomatic disorders, neuroticism or psychosis of a spouse who does not drink, and pathologies in children.

The most common pathology in children whose parents systematically abuse alcohol is congenital cerebral insufficiency. Often, such children have hyperactivity, lack of concentration, a desire to destroy and aggressive behavior.

In addition to congenital pathology, the child's development is affected by the traumatic situation in the family. Children have logoneurosis, enuresis, night terrors, behavioral disorders.

Children become depressed, suicidal, often have difficulty learning and interacting 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. Often, the pathology of the fetus consists of an irregular shape of the head, body proportions, spherical deep-set eyes, underdevelopment of the jaw bones and shortening of the tubular bones.

Alcoholism treatment

We have already briefly described the treatment of alcoholism depending on the stages. In most cases, relapse may occur after treatment.

This is due to the fact that treatment is often aimed only at eliminating the most acute manifestations of alcoholism. Improperly conducted psychotherapy, lack of support from loved ones, repeated alcoholism.

But as experience shows, an important component of treatment is psychotherapy.

alcoholism treatment in the clinic

The first stage of treatment of alcoholism is the elimination of acute and semi-acute conditions caused by intoxication of the body. First of all, the binge is stopped and withdrawal disorders are eliminated. In the later stages, the therapy is carried out only under the supervision of medical personnel, because the delirium syndrome that occurs during the cessation of drinking requires psychotherapy and a number of sedative drugs. The relief of acute alcoholic psychosis is to rapidly induce sleep by dehydrating the patient and supporting the cardiovascular system. In cases of severe alcohol intoxication, alcoholism treatment is carried out only in specialized hospitals or psychiatric departments. In the early stages, anti-alcohol treatment may be sufficient, but when alcohol is abandoned more often, there is a lack of neuroendocrine regulation, the disease progresses and causes complications and organ pathology.

The second stage of treatment is aimed at establishing remission. A complete diagnosis of the patient and treatment of mental and somatic disorders is carried out. In the second stage of treatment, the therapy can be quite specific, its main task is to eliminate the somatic disorders that are the basis for the formation of the pathological desire for alcohol.

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

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

It consists in building up the psyche by the method of verbal suggestion, even in an imagined state, to respond with a vomiting reaction to drinking alcohol.

The third stage of treatment involves extending 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, problems, friends, friends who are also addicted to alcohol in most cases, family conflicts.

This has a greater effect on the recurrence of the disease. Long-term psychotherapy is necessary for a person to independently eliminate the causes and external symptoms of alcoholism. A positive effect is given by autogenic training, they are widely used for group therapy.

Training consists of normalization of vegetative disorders and elimination of emotional stress after treatment.

Behavioral therapy is used, the so-called lifestyle correction. A person learns to live in a sober state, solve his problems, acquires the ability to control himself. A very important step in restoring normal life is to achieve mutual understanding in the family and understand their problem.

For successful treatment, it is important to get the patient to want to get rid of alcohol addiction. Forced treatment does not produce the same results as voluntary treatment.

However, refusal of treatment requires the local narcologist to send the patient to LTP for treatment.

In the general medical network, therapy does not give a positive result, because the patient has open access to alcohol, is visited by drunken friends, etc.

If alcohol abuse begins in adulthood, an individual approach is required in the selection 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.

Death in alcoholism is most often associated with complications. There is decompensation of vital organs as a result of long-term drinking, withdrawal, intercurrent diseases.

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

The presence of alcoholic cardiomyopathy significantly worsens the prognosis. Continuous systematic consumption of alcohol leads to death.

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

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

The patient cannot control delirious thoughts and makes unusual movements while awake.