Alcoholism is a disease, and like most diseases, it progresses with gradually worsening symptoms. Fortunately, alcoholism does not have to run its course. Seeking treatment can reverse many of the complications of the disease and help you successfully manage addiction. Read on to learn more about the different stages of alcoholism and how you can reach sobriety with treatment.\r\nStage One: Early Alcoholism or Heavy Drinking?\r\nEarly-stage alcoholism begins with recreational drinking and an increased tolerance for alcohol. For many, this stage starts in college, where social drinking is often seen as the norm. Early-stage alcoholism causes physical changes as the body adapts to alcohol consumption, but the only one most people notice is an increased tolerance for alcohol.\r\n\r\nEarly-stage alcoholism is difficult to spot, as the alcoholic\u2019s behavior is not very different from a non-alcoholic who drinks heavily. People often view the ability to \u201chold your liquor\u201d as a positive trait, and most alcoholics at this stage have little reason to think they have a drinking problem.\r\nStage Two: Pain Replaces Pleasure\r\nBy the second stage of alcoholism, physical dependency and withdrawal symptoms develop. You are no longer drinking to feel good. You are drinking increasingly larger amounts to avoid feeling bad. Tolerance continues to grow, while strong cravings for alcohol develop.\r\n\r\nAt this point, you start drinking outside of socially acceptable situations, and drinking begins to negatively impact your social relationships and work performance. You may experience blackouts, which are periods of time when your brain cannot store memories, even though you were conscious.\r\nStage 3: Physical and Mental Deterioration\r\nBy the third stage of alcoholism, a host of mental and physical complications develop. The physical effects of chronic alcohol abuse include heart failure, malnutrition, pancreatitis, fatty liver, cirrhosis of the liver, and serious respiratory illness. Brain damage can occur, and the kidneys and liver may eventually shut down.\r\n\r\nMuch of this damage is reversible with treatments for alcoholism, but mental health complications such as depression could prevent you from seeking help. You might experience confusion, delusions, and cognitive impairment. A guiding hand from family, employers, or legal authorities may be required to seek the help you need.\r\n\r\nWithout alcoholism treatment, stage three is the final stage of alcoholism.\r\nStage 4: Alcohol Rehab\r\nStage four \u2014 treatment for alcoholism \u2014 can occur at any point between stages one and three. While a small percentage of alcoholics manage to quit drinking alone, most need help. Remember, alcoholism is a disease, just like cancer or pneumonia, and requires professional medical care.\r\n\r\nAlcohol rehab offers the best treatment for alcoholism. In rehab, you can detox in a safe place, with medical assistance to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Rehab offers therapy to help you identify the causes of your addiction and teach you new lifestyle habits while treating and stabilizing alcohol-related health complications.\r\nRelapse: A Possible Stage of Alcoholism\r\nI hesitate to call relapse Stage 5 because not all alcoholics relapse after treatment. Relapse is, however, a possibility you should prepare for. Slipping back into old habits can happen quickly, especially if you do not continue therapy or support groups after rehab.\r\n\r\nRelapse is a temporary obstacle to sobriety, not a sign treatment failed. To improve your odds of successful, long-term sobriety, seek help as soon as possible if you start drinking again.\r\nSobriety: The Final Stage\r\nTreating alcoholism takes time. The road is not always easy, but sobriety waits at the end of your journey. Take the first steps towards reclaiming your life. Reach out to someone and ask for help \u2014 a family member, a friend, a medical professional. Do not let your journey end at Stage 3. Clarity Way is here to help you with your treatment journey. Call us at for help.