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Progression of the disease


The following table can also be used for assessing whether someone has a drinking problem.

The disease has five major phases. These five phases are expressed in the following table. The symptoms per phase are not exact, but should give an indication on whether a person has a problem, and if so roughly at what phase he is.

The phases are:











Please use this table for assessment of the situation before making contact with us.

Symptoms Phase
Occasional relief drinking. Relief = drinking to escape from something.  Progression
Urgency of first drink.
Constant relief drinking.
Feelings of guilt.
Needs to drink more to achieve effect.
Start of memory blackouts.
Hidden drinking.
More memory blackouts
Increasing dependence on alcohol. Crucial phase
Using excuses to drink.
Unable to discuss problem.
Dramatic and aggressive behaviour.
Does not stop drinking when others do.
Efforts to control the problem fails repeatedly.
Persistent remorse.
Promises fail.
Starts avoiding family and friends.
Loss of interests.
Tries to get away from current place and people.
Money and work problems.
Loss of ordinary will power.
Less tolerant to alcohol. (Little alcohol has a great effect.) Chronic phase
Unreasonable resentment.
Neglect food.
Lengthy periods of being drunk.
Physical conditions deteriorates.
Moral behaviour deteriorates
Poor quality of thinking.
Indescribable fears.
Obsession with drinking.
Vague spiritual desires.
All excuses for drinking has been exhausted.
Admits defeat.
Obsessive drinking continues.
Honest desire for help Rehabilitation
Discovers that alcoholism is a disease.
Discovers that addiction can be controlled.
Stops taking alcohol.
Meets normal and happy former addicts.
Does a stock take of himself.
Proper thinking begins.
Spiritual needs defined.
Physical repair by a doctor.
Onset of new hope.
Nourishment taken.
Start of group therapy.
Realistic thinking.
Appreciation of new possibilities in life.
Natural rest and sleep.
Less fears (of the future).
Return of self-esteem. Recovery
Family and friends appreciate the effort to stay sober.
Desire to escape disappears.
Adjust to family needs.
Develop new interests.
New circle of stable friends.
Rebirth of new ideas for life.
Face facts with courage.
Control over emotions.
Appreciate real values.
Create confidence with employers.
Return to economic viability.
Contentment with being sober.
Taking care of personal appearance.
Operate within support groups.






















































It is very important that you should not become despondent at this stage. The disease can be cured. With modern methods up to 74% of ex-alcoholics report being dry and stable about two years after treatment. It can be cured!!! More detail.

However, if you do not make work of your problem, alcoholism is ...

CHRONIC. It can last a lifetime without help and treatment.

PROGRESSIVE. It will not get better with time and it will not go away. It gets progressively worse. 

INCURABLE. A patient recovered from alcoholism can never go back to "normal" drinking.

We want to help you in a variety of ways, most of which cost you nothing. You just need to give that major step and admit "I want help".

Last updated on 18 April 2007


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Back to index.    Disclaimer: Although reasonable effort has been applied to maintain the integrity of the data and advice on this site, no responsibility can be accepted for the use thereof. It is a resource guide for understanding and managing alcoholism. The information on this site is provided "as is" for general information and is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis or treatment recommendation of a qualified health care professional.    Enquiries regarding this web site should be directed to