Part 1, Part 2
As a counsellor, with 24 years' experience, I have seen and helped many clients who've had an alcohol problem. I have also helped them deal with the effect of their addiction on their relationship or marriage, regardless of the stage.
An alcohol addiction causes mistrust, suspicion and a great deal of unhappiness in any relationship. Often people seek relationship advice for other reasons than the alcohol problem. This is because of the sense of shame attached to it. However, it soon becomes apparent that the strain of an alcohol problem caused the relationship to buckle.
The article below was written by my friend Chris who also wrote an article about how alcoholism and depression for him went hand in hand (see links further down for more on this).
Think you can give up any time you want? Chris starts by describing how his drinking started when he was at university. Don't let that distract you - his journey may well be much like yours!
Read carefully and you may recognise yourself - or someone you care about - regardless what age you are!
Not sure if it's really you? Have a look at my page on alcoholism symptoms, a self-test and a link to chilling pictures of a damaged brain. You can find all these links at the end of this page.
But first, do watch the following video. If you're becoming addicted to alcohol, or indeed any other substance - you'll immediately be able to identify what's waiting for you. That is, unless you take action.
Do you recognise yourself?
These are some of the alcoholism stages as I experienced them during my time as an active alcoholic. They may not necessarily correspond to what is recognised by the many leading alcoholic recovery organisations. They are simply a description of what I thought, felt and experienced during my time as a problem drinker.
When I started drinking I just looked like another teenager, new to drinking, enjoying it. At this stage I was still able to refuse drink. (Although if the truth be known I'd have preferred not to refuse it.)
The second of the alcoholism stages mostly describes university drinking. Uni - a license to drink as much as I liked.
Of course this is well camouflaged, as everyone does it at least thats what you tell yourself. (Actually ... they dont, but mostly I was able to satisfy myself that my drinking wasnt abnormal). Besides, it was still fun - mostly.
Still at university, only now I often don't go to lectures or hand in assignments. If it's a choice between the library and the pub the pub wins every time.
I could pass this off as just being just a bit if a lad but really I found much greater comfort in drinking during the day. The problem with this stage of alcoholism is that some part of you knows that what you're doing is wrong (even if you can justify it I'll do it later or I'm in a bad mood), but it started to erode my self esteem.
The next stage of alcoholism was when I was drinking because I was bored. Drinking in itself seemed to constitute an activity.
Worthwhile and esteem-able activities such as study or what had been enjoyable sporting pursuits took less than a back seat as I moved from one stage to the next.
The 'I'm a loser' and 'I'm bored' alcoholism stages ran alongside each other. This was perhaps when I started to lose a sense of identity.
I quit uni and decided that I'd cut down on my drinking and get a job. Instead, I continued to drink on a daily basis.
I often found myself drinking lager at the edge of a soccer pitch, watching my friends play. I would be thinking: I used to be like that. I used to be good at this game. Has it come to this? A deepening of my low self esteem.
(Elly comments: So often when a couple comes for relationship advice, it becomes apparent that low self-esteem has a huge impact on the couple dynamics. One partner often tries to support or 'prop up' the other. However, unless that person is willing to take action, it's only going to lead to them becoming further and further polarised - their differences becoming more acute. See: How to Build Self-Esteem)
Excessive absenteeism - sometime in my mid-twenties - was one of the major alcoholism stages for me. Not only was I drinking every night, but also during the day if I could think of a good enough lie to get out of work.
Besides, I'd found the concept of hair of the dog at university. Apart from sometimes feeling too sick to work, I was finding that I couldn't face going into work and being around people.
The problem was that feeling guilty didn't stop me, even though I did. I told myself that I was just being a bit cheeky. Having just told work another lie I would then find that I had the rest of the day on my hands time to drink. I'm sure they already suspected that step-by-step I was going through the alcoholism stages.
Great justification for drinking. If I didn't have a good enough reason to drink I'd tell myself that I was just like a certain character that happened to be drinking a lot in the book I was reading or film I was watching.
(Actually it was probably more that I was reading about/watching a character that was drinking. It would bring the idea of getting drunk to mind. Unfortunately the obsessional nature of the alcoholic mind - regardless of any stages of my decline into alcoholism - is such that that thought cant be removed until you have some drink in you).
Brick from A cat on a Hot Tin Roof is my favourite example of this. He was still young and athletic, but spent all day lost in an alcoholic haze. This appealed to me.
A really helpful way of tackling an alcohol problem or addiction is to use hypnosis - a 'painless', comfortable treatment. No visits to professionals are required with a hypnosis download and there's no need to 'expose' yourself in groups.
So here's my suggestion for starters: Moderate Your Drinking (on my page: Hypnosis online FAQ). What have you got to lose, when you're already searching for information on alcoholism stages?
If you're drinking to 'calm your nerves' and because you're suffering from high levels of anxiety, then I really hope you'll have a look at my review of a system I recommend to help you Overcome Your Anxiety.
Continue Reading the Next 5 Stages and watch the video of a down and out newsreader...
Part 1, Part 2