STAGES OF ALCOHOLISM TO DEATH

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Stages of Alcoholism to Death

STAGES OF ALCOHOLISM TO DEATH

Johnson’s typologies

Johnson (1980) explores the emotional progression of the addict’s response to alcohol. He looks at this in four phases. The first two are considered “normal” drinking and the last two are viewed as “typical” alcoholic drinking. Johnson’s four phases consist of:

  1. Learning the mood swing. A person is introduced to alcohol (in some cultures this can happen at a relatively young age), and the person enjoys the happy feeling it produces. At this stage there is no emotional cost.
  2. Seeking the mood swing. A person will drink to regain that feeling of euphoria experienced in phase 1; the drinking will increase as more intoxication is required to achieve the same effect. Again at this stage, there are no significant consequences.
  3. At the third stage there are physical and social consequences, i.e., hangovers, family problems, work problems, etc. A person will continue to drink excessively, disregarding the problems.
  4. The fourth stage can be detrimental, as Johnson cites it as a risk for premature death. As a person now drinks to feel normal, they block out the feelings of overwhelming guilt, remorse, anxiety, and shame they experience when sober.

Milam & Ketcham’s physical deterioration stages

Other theorists such as Milam & Ketcham (1983) focus on the physical deterioration that alcohol consumption causes. They describe the process in three stages:

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  1. Adaptive stage – The person will not experience any negative symptoms, and they believe they have capacity for drinking alcohol without problems. Physiological changes are happening with the increase in tolerance, but this will not be noticeable to the drinker or others.
  2. Dependent stage – At this stage, symptoms build up gradually. Hangover symptoms from excessive drinking may be confused with withdrawal symptoms. Many addicts will maintain their drinking to avoid withdrawal sickness, drinking small amounts frequently. They will try to hide their drinking problem from others, and will avoid gross intoxication.
  3. Deterioration stage – Various organs are damaged due to long-term drinking. Medical treatment in a rehabilitation center will be required; otherwise the pathological changes will cause death.

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References:
Thombs, Dennis L (1999). Introduction to Addictive Behaviours 2ed. London: The Guildford Press. p. 64.
Thombs, Dennis (1999). Introduction to Addictive Behaviors. London: The Guildford Press. p. 64.
Thombs, Dennis L (1999). Introduction to Addictive Behaviors 2ed. London: The Guildford Press. p. 65.

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