Alcoholism: symptoms and treatment. Stages of alcoholism

alcoholism in men

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

There are a total of 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, many who have recovered even after a few years go back to old habits.

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

Initial stage of alcoholism: causes and treatment

Read more: what is alcoholism.

The first stage of alcoholism is not always perceived as the beginning of the degradation of the personality and the progression of the disease as such. 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 (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 relatives;
  • Gender of the patient (male or female).
  • a man drinks with friends
  • Doses of alcohol are gradually increased;
  • Taking 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 more often manifested;
  • It cannot stop even after emptying the stomach of the accumulated alcohol (vomiting);
  • He has a severe hangover with a headache;
  • So far, he has reacted negatively to a hangover (rejection of alcohol);
  • Contradictions in actions and words, both when drunk and sober;
  • Negative attitude towards alcoholics, does not consider his problem important.

Treatment at the initial stage

treatment of the initial stage of alcoholism

Also, do not miss the effect of alcohol on all human organs. Therefore, to understand the problem, it will help to study:

  1. Diseases of the liver and pancreas (heaviness, nausea, vomiting, pain and colic, bloating, indigestion);
  2. Vegetavascular disease (swelling of the veins, heaviness in the legs, swelling and pain after a day);
  3. Hypertensive diseases (sudden spikes in pressure, loss of strength, severe headache, nausea);
  4. Nervous disorders (headache, convulsions, swelling, irritability, sleep disorders, hand-clapping, aggressiveness, temper tantrums).

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

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

symptoms of alcoholism

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

The degrees of alcoholism and their treatment are different for each case. One will need more psychological help, the second will need harsh conditions and boundaries beyond which he will not be able to pass. But one thing becomes obvious: one cannot do without outside help. The second stage of alcohol dependence is treated using an integrated approach:

  1. Medicinal 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 the drugs allow you to cope not only with the side effects of taking a large amount of alcohol, but also to speed up the process of breaking down ethanol in the blood plasma;
  2. Aversive treatment - drugs are administered intravenously to develop alcohol rejection. Often such drugs do not cause discomfort in people who do not drink. But the simultaneous intake of alcohol and such a drug causes vomiting, nausea, severe headache and rejection at a subconscious level;
  3. Help from a psychologist. After all the manipulations have been 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 help and adaptation to a 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 the desire for alcohol.

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

The third stage 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 patient's family and close circle. This is a problem of the whole society: a person degrades, violates all existing norms and rules of communication, does not respond to comments and requests from loved ones, is a "burden" factor for the family. In fact, often the third stage of alcoholism forces a person to refuse work, neglectthe wishes of relatives and friends. This means that such a patient is not able to ensure the purchase of expensive alcoholic beverages. As a result, funds, expensive equipment and food are stolen from the home. Also, the third stage of alcoholism is accompanied by such additionalfeatures such as:

  • Deformation of appearance: thin arms and legs, large torso and abdomen, wine-red or gray skin with obvious blockages of veins, swelling in any condition of all limbs and under the eyes, loss of teeth, 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 their configuration;
  • Distortion of speech;
  • Paralysis of certain parts of the body, more often the face, arms, legs;
  • Health problems: hepatitis, chronic pancreatitis, cancer, indigestion, urinary and fecal incontinence;
  • Alcohol tolerance (fewer doses, but more often).

Drinking alcohol before and during pregnancy

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

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

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

Which stages are difficult to treat

what 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 long-term 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 and the reproductive system) create dangerous conditions for a quality future life of the cured. Supporting the most affected organs after treatment is a major task.

The final stage of alcoholism: no options

the last stage of alcoholism leads to death

Alcoholism is an insidious disease. She sneaks in when it seems like the whole world is up in arms against you. Often the first stages of alcoholism are missed, not perceived as a real problem. And then the progression and rate 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 skipped, the complexity of treatment increases with each passing day. Alcoholism at the stage of development of the fourth degree is more like 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 not a sentence only for the sick.

This is a diagnosis for those who failed to help in time, to lend a helping hand, without perceiving the disease as a problem.

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

His brain is so warped by alcohol that it's impossible to recognize him as someone you used to know. Complete degradation of the subconscious, the 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 you can do to avoid the unenviable fate of an alcoholic, from whom all relatives and friends have turned away, having written him off in advance from the world of the living.


Alcoholism is a disease that manifests itself with systemic 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 abuses alcohol, and another 80% drink alcohol moderately, which is due to certain drinking traditions that have developed in society.

Such factors as conflicts with relatives, an unsatisfactory standard of living and the inability to realize themselves in life often lead to abuse. At an early 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 avoid social problems.

Constantly resorting to this method of relaxation leads to permanent addiction and the inability to feel inner comfort without alcohol intoxication. According to the degree of dependence and symptoms, several stages of alcoholism are distinguished.

Stages of alcoholism

The first stage of alcoholism

The first stage of the disease is characterized by increasing doses and frequency of alcohol intake. There is a syndrome of altered reactivity, in which the tolerance to alcohol changes. The protective reactions of the body against overdose disappear, in particular, there is no vomiting when drinking large doses of alcohol.

In case of severe intoxication, palimpsests are observed - memory gaps. 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 until the craving is controlled because there is no physical dependence syndrome. A person does not degrade or lose working capacity.

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

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

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

Pancreatic complications are acute and chronic pancreatitis. At the same time, pain in the abdomen is noted, which is localized on the left and radiates 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

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

Tolerance to alcohol reaches its maximum, the so-called pseudo-drinking occurs, their frequency is not related to the patient's attempts to get rid of alcohol addiction, but to external circumstances, for example, lack of money and inability to get 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 at 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 for mental work and mental activity is disorganized. There is a syndrome of physical alcohol dependence that suppresses all feelings except the craving for alcohol, which becomes uncontrollable. The patient is 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.

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

Abrupt withdrawal from alcohol causes such somatoneurological symptoms of alcoholism as exophthalmos, mydriasis, hyperemia of the upper part of the body, tremors of the fingers, nausea, vomiting, intestinal spasms, pain in the heart, liver and headache.

There are mental symptoms of personality degradation, weakening of intellect, delusions. Often there is restlessness, night restlessness, convulsive seizures, which are harbingers of acute psychosis - delirium tremens, popularly called delirium tremens.

The complications of alcoholism of the second degree on the part of the liver are represented by alcoholic hepatitis, often in a chronic form. The disease is more often in a persistent form than in a progressive one.

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

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

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

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

Third stage

Alcoholism in the third stage is significantly different from the previous two, the duration of this stage is 5-10 years. This is the last stage of the disease and, as practice shows, most often ends in death. Tolerance to alcohol decreases, intoxication occurs after small doses of alcohol. Overeating ends in 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, cheerfulness, irritability, anger unpredictably replace each other.

Degradation of the personality, reduction of intellectual abilities, inability to work lead to the fact that the alcoholic, who does not have money for alcohol, uses surrogates, sells things, steals. The use of such surrogates as denatured alcohol, cologne, varnish, etc. It leads to serious complications.

The complications of alcoholism from the third stage are most often 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 constant anorexia nervosa, flatulence, fatigue, weak apathetic mood. There is thinning of the skin, white spots and spider webs appear on them.

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

The appearance of the patient changes significantly, 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 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, with age the face becomes hyperemic, skin turgor is lost. The face acquires a peculiar kind of volitional laxity 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 turns out to be quite accurate, even when analyzing not the patient himself, but his environment. Family members of an alcoholic patient have a number of psychosomatic disorders, neuroticism or psychotization of a non-drinking spouse, and pathologies in children.

The most common pathology in children whose parents systematically abuse alcohol is congenital cerebral insufficiency. Often such children have excessive mobility, are not focused, have a thirst 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 disorders.

Children are depressed, prone to suicide attempts, often have difficulties with 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 an irregular shape of the head, proportions of the body, spherical deep eyes, underdevelopment of the jaw bones and shortening of the tubular bones.

Treatment of alcoholism

We have already briefly described the treatment of alcoholism depending on its stages. In most cases, a relapse 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, psychotherapy is an important component of treatment.

treatment of alcoholism in the clinic

The first stage of the treatment of alcoholism is the elimination of acute and subacute conditions caused by intoxication of the body. First of all, overeating is interrupted 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 drinking is stopped requires psychotherapy and a number of sedatives. Relief of acute alcoholic psychosis is to quickly put the patient to sleep with dehydration and cardiovascular support. In case of severe alcohol intoxication, the treatment of alcoholism is carried out only in specialized hospitals or in psychiatric departments. In the early stages, anti-alcohol treatment may be sufficient, but more often with alcohol withdrawal, a deficiency of neuroendocrine regulation is observed, the disease progresses and leads to complications and organ pathology.

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

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

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

It consists in adjusting the psyche through the method of verbal suggestion, reacting with a vomiting reaction to drinking alcohol, even in an imaginary situation.

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 previous society, to his problems, friends, who in most cases are also addicted to alcohol, to family conflicts.

This has a greater effect on the recurrence of the disease. In order for a person to independently eliminate the causes and external symptoms of alcoholism, long-term psychotherapy is necessary. Autogenic training has a positive effect, they are widely used for group therapy.

Training consists in normalizing autonomic disorders and eliminating emotional stress after treatment.

Behavioral therapy, the so-called lifestyle modification, is used. A person learns to live in a sober state, to solve his problems, acquiring the skill 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 achieve the patient's desire to get rid of alcohol addiction. Forced treatment does not produce the same results as voluntary treatment.

But still, the refusal of treatment requires the local narcologist to forcibly refer the patient for treatment in LTP.

Therapy in the general medical network does not give positive results, because the patient has free access to alcohol, is visited by drunken friends, etc.

In the event that 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 much earlier than the onset of addiction and mental disorders.

Mortality in alcoholism is most often related to complications. There is decompensation of vital organs caused by prolonged drinking, states of abstinence, intercurrent diseases.

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

The presence of alcoholic cardiomyopathy significantly worsens the prognosis. Prolonged systemic consumption of alcohol leads to death.

Less than 25% of patients with this complication live more than three years after diagnosis. A high percentage of alcohol intoxication deaths 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 performs unusual actions while sober.