Stages of alcoholism - the development of alcoholism and how to intervene

Contral Clinics

Stages of Alcoholism: Understanding the development of alcoholism and the importance of addressing it 

The development of alcoholism does not happen overnight. Instead, it is a process that proceeds in several stages. In this article, we'll look at the stages of alcoholism, specifically its physical and psychological symptoms at different stages, study changes in alcoholic's behavior, and go through the severity of risks as alcoholism progresses. You will also learn how to intervene at different stages and how intervention can be easy or difficult, depending on the degree of progression of alcoholism. 

First Stage: Moderate drinking 

In the early stages, a person might drink alcohol in social situations or to relax. Although alcohol-related problems are not yet visible, this is a stage in which alcohol consumption can begin to increase slowly but surely. 

Second Stage: Risky drinking 

In the second stage, a person begins to drink more often and more in amounts. Risky drinking can lead to physical symptoms such as nausea and tremors, as well as psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression. At this stage, it's important to identify the signs of excessive alcohol consumption and intervene before it progresses. 

Third Stage: Alcohol abuse 

When a person continues to consume too much alcohol, they might progress to a third stage, known as alcohol abuse. At this point, alcohol becomes an important part of a person's life, and they start to lose control over their drinking. Physical and mental problems, such as liver damage, depression, and addiction, can develop already at this stage. 

Railroad tracks fork in a misty city setting

Fourth Stage: Alcoholism 

The fourth stage, alcoholism, is the result of constant alcohol abuse. A person is physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol, and their life revolves around alcohol. Physical symptoms, such as liver and heart damage, as well as psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety, can worsen. At this stage, intervening is challenging, but extremely important. 

Intervention at different stages 

The ease or difficulty of intervention at different stages of alcoholism depends on many factors.

It might be easier to intervene during moderate and risky drinking because a person has not yet developed a physical dependence on alcohol.

In contrast, intervening in the alcoholism phase can be more challenging, but it is always vital and it is possible to recover with the help of a professional.


Alcoholism is a serious disease that affects both physical and mental health. Understanding the different stages of alcoholism can help identify the risks of the disease at an early stage. We encourage you to seek help as soon as problems related to excessive alcohol consumption begin. 

However, it is important to remember that help is available and that recovery is possible. At Contral Clinics, we consider your individual situation and adapt our scientifically researched and effective treatment programs to your specific needs. Read more about our services here. Below you will also find a free test to check wheter alcohol has become a problem for you. 

Do you suspect that you or your loved one suffers from alcoholism?
Take an alcoholism test!
alkoholisti mies kurottaa viinipulloa edessään tyhjä viinilasialkoholisti mies kurottaa viinipulloa edessään tyhjä viinilasi

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