September 6


The Second Stage of Alcoholism: What You Need to Know

By Joshua Turner

September 6, 2023

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterized by a compulsive need to consume alcohol despite the negative consequences it may have on a person’s life. Alcoholism is a progressive disease that develops in stages, with the second stage being one of the most critical.

During the second stage of alcoholism, a person’s drinking habits become more problematic. They may start to experience physical and psychological symptoms, such as blackouts, tremors, and anxiety. They may also begin to neglect their responsibilities at work, school, or home, and their relationships may suffer as a result.

Key Takeaways

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is a chronic and progressive condition that is characterized by an individual’s excessive and uncontrollable consumption of alcohol despite the negative consequences it causes to their physical, mental, and social health.

Alcoholism is a severe form of alcohol abuse and addiction, and it can lead to physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and loss of control over one’s drinking behavior.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of alcoholism can vary depending on the severity of the condition, but some of the most common ones include:

  • Craving for alcohol
  • Loss of control over drinking behavior
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
  • Tolerance to alcohol
  • Continued alcohol use despite negative consequences
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Social and interpersonal problems
  • Physical health problems such as liver damage, heart disease, and malnutrition
  • Mental health disorders such as anxiety and stress

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing alcoholism involves a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s drinking behavior, medical history, and physical and mental health. A doctor or mental health professional can use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria to diagnose alcoholism.

Treatment options for alcoholism include rehabilitation programs, medications, and professional help. Rehabilitation programs can help individuals overcome their addiction and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Medications such as naltrexone and acamprosate can reduce cravings and prevent relapse. Professional help, such as counseling and support groups, can also be beneficial for individuals struggling with alcoholism.

Stages of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a progressive disease that typically occurs in three stages: early, middle, and late. Each stage is characterized by specific symptoms and behaviors that can help identify the severity of the addiction.

Early Stage

The early stage of alcoholism is marked by experimentation and increased alcohol consumption. Individuals in this stage may experience blackouts, hangovers, and alcohol tolerance. They may also exhibit impulsive behavior and have difficulty controlling their drinking.

Middle Stage

In the middle stage of alcoholism, also the second stage of alcoholism, individuals experience cravings and may drink alone or in secret. They may also start to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as tremors and anxiety. Health professionals may also notice physical symptoms, such as jaundice from liver failure, itchy skin, and fluid retention.

Late Stage

The late stage of alcoholism is also known as end-stage alcoholism or severe alcohol use disorder. Individuals in this stage may experience heart failure, anemia, and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a brain disorder caused by a thiamine deficiency. They may also exhibit suicidal behavior and become increasingly isolated from friends and family.


Group therapy and Alcoholics Anonymous can be helpful in treating alcohol use disorder (AUD) and preventing relapse. Health professionals can also provide confidential support and treatment for individuals struggling with alcoholism.

Alcoholism can lead to a range of health problems, including cancers, accidents, and violence. It is important to seek help early and maintain sobriety to prevent the progression of the disease. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) provides resources and support for individuals struggling with alcoholism and their families.

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options available for individuals in the second stage of alcoholism. These options include medications, rehabilitation, group therapy, and professional help.


Medications can be used to help individuals in the second stage of alcoholism manage their cravings and reduce the risk of relapse. Some commonly used medications include acamprosate, naltrexone, and disulfiram. It is important to note that medication should always be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment.


Rehabilitation programs can provide individuals with the tools they need to overcome their addiction. These programs can be either inpatient or outpatient and typically involve a combination of therapy, counseling, and support groups. The goal of rehabilitation is to help individuals learn how to live a sober life and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Group Therapy

Group therapy can be a helpful tool for individuals in the second stage of alcoholism. Group therapy provides individuals with a supportive environment where they can share their experiences and learn from others who are going through similar struggles. Group therapy can be particularly effective when used in conjunction with other forms of treatment.

Professional Help

Professional help can be an important component of treatment for individuals in the second stage of alcoholism. This may include working with a therapist or counselor to address underlying mental health issues that may be contributing to the addiction.

It is important to seek out a qualified professional who has experience working with individuals who are struggling with addiction.

There are several treatment options available for individuals in the second stage of alcoholism. These options include medications, rehabilitation, group therapy, and professional help.

It is important to remember that treatment should always be tailored to the individual’s specific needs and circumstances. With the right treatment and support, individuals can overcome their addiction and lead a healthy, sober life.


In conclusion, the second stage of alcoholism is a critical phase characterized by problematic drinking habits and the emergence of physical and psychological symptoms.

During this stage, individuals may neglect their responsibilities and damage their relationships, highlighting the significant impact alcoholism has on various aspects of their lives.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of alcoholism is crucial for seeking professional help and receiving an accurate diagnosis. Various treatment options, including medications, rehabilitation programs, group therapy, and professional support, are available to individuals in the second stage of alcoholism.

With the right combination of treatments and support, it is possible for individuals to overcome their addiction and regain control of their lives, leading to a healthier and sober future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about this topic.

What are the symptoms of moderate alcohol use disorder?

Moderate alcohol use disorder is characterized by symptoms such as drinking more than intended, unsuccessful attempts to cut back, spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from its effects and continuing to drink despite negative consequences.

Other symptoms may include neglecting responsibilities, social or interpersonal problems, and giving up activities that were once enjoyable.

What are the physical effects of long-term alcohol abuse?

Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to a range of physical effects, including liver damage, high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive problems, and an increased risk of certain types of cancer. It can also weaken the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off infections.

How does alcohol affect the brain and behavior?

Alcohol affects the brain by altering the levels of neurotransmitters, which can lead to changes in mood, behavior, and cognition. It can impair judgment, coordination, and memory and can increase the risk of accidents and injuries.

Chronic alcohol abuse can also lead to structural changes in the brain, which can have long-lasting effects on cognitive function.

What are the social and emotional effects of alcoholism?

Alcoholism can have a significant impact on a person’s social and emotional well-being. It can lead to strained relationships with family and friends, social isolation, and financial problems. It can also contribute to the development of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

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