It’s Alcohol Awareness Month and I would like to spread awareness in an effort to reduce stigma, over use, promote prevention, and treatment of alcohol abuse and addiction! With the recent concern over the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol sales in Idaho have increased. According to a study done by the Nielsen Market Research Firm, the MLCC is reporting that sales have gone up by 55% by the week of March 21, 2020 across the nation compared to this time last year.
Calling liquor stores “essential businesses” during the coronavirus pandemic might seem debatable, however, many citizens are coping with the stress of the quarantine related to the COVID-19 by consuming more alcoholic beverages than they had previously. Even curbside pick-up is being offered by businesses with liquor licenses for off-premises consumption, making alcohol even more available.
One in every twelve adults, or 17.6 million people, suffer from some level of alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependency – and it doesn’t happen overnight. Like other types of addiction, it’s a progressive disease that happens in stages. In fact, some experts say it can begin with intermittent social drinking, especially if you have a genetic predisposition. Sadly, by the time many people realize that their recreational drinking has turned into dependence and addiction, it’s often too late to stop on their own.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of each stage can help you know when to seek help for yourself or a loved one. Without intervention and proper treatment, alcoholism can progress to the point where it can cause serious consequences for yourself and for the ones you love.
3 Stages of Alcoholism:
Most experts classify the progression of the disease in three stages: early, middle and end/late-stage alcoholism.
Stage 1: Early addiction: During this stage, a person is building up a tolerance to alcohol and there may not be any obvious impairment or dysfunction. The consumer will notice, however, the need to drink larger quantities to get the same “buzz” and may find themselves drinking more consistently to deal with stress or other problems such as financial concerns. Others around the person may begin to notice something different about that person’s behavior – but they’re not sure what or why.
Stage 2: Middle stage: The middle stage is often characterized by the beginning of noticeable physical and social effects of drinking. For instance, during this phase, many people experience blackouts after excessive drinking as well as psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is not available. These includes:
- Clammy, pale skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
- Shakiness and tremors
At this point, the consumer may also begin to struggle with work, school and family responsibilities and others around them may begin to recognize their drinking problem.
Stage 3: Late or end stage: During the late or end stages of alcoholism, the disease infiltrates physical, social, spiritual and mental health. By this point, drinking has taken a toll on relationships with family and friends, leisure activities and even career. It’s also likely that the consumer can no longer sleep after ingesting alcohol and may experience blackouts frequently increasing accidents and injuries. What’s more, alcohol has begun to wreak havoc on the body, increasing the risk for recurrent respiratory infections, alcoholic hepatitis which can result in cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis (a very painful condition), and even organ failure. In my years of experience working in hepatology, often by the time a patient starts to show symptoms, it is too late.
If you or someone you know or love fits any of these stages, please try to get help. There are many facilities available in the area ready and able to assist. Simply Google “Boise Idaho Drug and Alcohol Treatment” or for more information, contact The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence at 866-571-6191.
Heather Stolworthy, MPH, MSN, FNP-C