Alcoholism is one of the forms of substance abuse, which is characterized by an addiction to the use of substances containing ethyl alcohol, the development of mental and physical dependence, social degradation of the personality. In its course, alcoholism goes through three stages.

The first stage is neurasthenic, characterized by mental dependence on alcohol. The painful nature of the craving for alcohol arises and strengthens.

It is determined by the emergence and development of a constant need to take an intoxicating dose of alcohol, i.e. we are not talking about an attraction to alcohol as such, but precisely to bringing oneself into a state of intoxication. Unlike the habitual drunkard, who can still resist the attraction to alcohol and does not realize it when external circumstances oppose it, the alcoholic practically loses this ability. Attraction begins to take on the nature of obsession, which reflects a person's mental dependence on alcohol. The periods of abstinence are shortened, the number of days of drunkenness equals and exceeds the number of sober days. Outside of intoxication, a person is addicted, experiences psychological discomfort, which again leads him to use alcohol. Resistance to alcohol grows, which increases 2-3 times. Vomiting disappears in case of an overdose, and vomiting is an indicator of the limit of intoxication and, ultimately, protection from further intake of alcohol into the body. The reactivity to alcohol changes, which is expressed not only in a growing resistance to alcohol, but also in a change in the form and nature of intoxication, when the period of excitement with disinhibition is lengthened (for moderate drinkers this period is 30-60 minutes, for habitual drunkards - up to two hours, for alcoholics - several hours). In a recession, a desire to take a dose of alcohol again. In a state of alcoholic intoxication, the alcoholic becomes agitated, aggressive, his mood drops, he begins to pester others, look for the culprit in his failures, becomes conflictual and explosive.

Thus, the initial stage of alcoholism is characterized by mental dependence on alcohol, a decrease in quantitative and situational control, an increase in alcohol resistance, memory impairments, mental and physical disorders of a person. The first stage can last from 5 to 10 years.

Second stage. An important sign of the second stage of alcoholism is the formation of physical dependence on alcohol, which manifests itself in the form of a hangover syndrome or withdrawal symptoms. Resistance to alcohol reaches its maximum level. Pseudo-drinking is observed. The peculiarity of the second stage of alcoholism is that alcohol becomes an integral part of the patient's metabolism. The patient experiences its absence in the body as a serious, painful condition. An alcoholic does not suffer from the fact that he drank a lot yesterday, he suffers from what he did not drink today. He drinks to relieve his condition. The metabolism in the body of a patient with alcoholism changes so much that the presence of a certain amount of ethanol becomes necessary to maintain these changed metabolic processes. A decrease in the concentration of alcohol in the body is subjectively experienced as a very difficult physical condition - what is called a hangover. This state determines the insurmountability of the craving for alcohol, the physical nature of this craving, dependence. In the second stage of alcoholism, physical diseases are often exacerbated, but even more often new diseases arise associated with the influence of chronic alcohol poisoning: diseases of the liver, stomach, heart, and central nervous system. At this stage, alcoholic psychosis can develop.

Third stage. It is the result of the severe toxic effects of alcohol. It is characterized by a drop in resistance to alcohol, a decrease in mental and physical dependence, a further increase in physical, mental and social degradation of the personality. By the way, these are not necessarily elderly people: 30% are people under 40, and the average age at this stage is 45 years.

Thus:

Stage I: characterized by the development of mental dependence, the disappearance of the gag reflex, high tolerance to alcohol, loss of situational and quantitative control, systematic alcohol consumption, and personality changes. Duration from 5 to 10 years;

-Stage II: characterized by the development of physical dependence, the highest tolerance to alcohol, the development of withdrawal symptoms, the presence of hard drinking, the addition of mental disorders (alcoholic psychosis), alcoholic degradation of the personality;

Stage III: characterized by a decrease in tolerance, an increase in physical dependence, the development of severe withdrawal symptoms, the onset of alcoholic psychoses, an increase in mental and social degradation of the personality, the appearance of alcoholic dementia.

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