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The Three Faces of Alcoholism…

The Three Faces of Alcoholism…

(I knew those obsessive selfies would come in handy…)


I don’t know where I’ve been, but I did not know there were three distinct stages of alcoholism. I have intuitively known that alcoholics end up alone in a dark garage, or in jail, or rehab, but it wasn’t until I had a conversation with a reader from Wales yesterday, that I thought to research the subject.


The “bad guy” in the attic…

There are a million “I ended up” alcohol stories. I’ve heard many of them. These stories are all peppered with negative words like: despair, misery, pain, pitch black, fell, emergency room, hole, police lights, humiliation… I could go on and on but the end of severe alcoholism is always do or die and the words to describe it are always bleak.


Because I am a visual thinker, I got the clearest mental picture of alcoholism as a bad guy in the attic. I used to live in a large house. It was a very loosy-goosy environment when the kids were growing up – we never locked the doors, people came and went, there was often a stray sleeping it off in a guest bedroom. Someone once said, “You know, a killer could move into your attic, sneak downstairs at night to eat your food and use a bathroom and you’d never know it.


I would never have known it…


The Three Stages of Alcoholism:

1.  The Adaptive Stage: In the Adaptive Stage, there is no obvious impact on day to day life, but the alcoholic goes from social drinker to one who is beginning to experience increased tolerance to booze. There is still pleasure in the buzz, but the poison is beginning to creep in.

It’s like a killer has moved into the attic, sneaking down the stairs to watch while you sleep, but you don’t suspect it yet…


2.  The Middle Stage: In the Middle Stage pleasure wanes while dependence waxes. The loss of control begins, the blackouts…

The killer is there walking softly and you know it – you might be afraid, but you leave the door open, lay awake with the covers up to your chin and wait, because you have begun to need the adrenalin rush.


3.  The Late Stage: In the Late Stage there is only the need for alcohol.The killer is sitting in the room with his knife sharpened. There is no pleasure, there is not even any fear. Just a dull confusion – a misery so profound, the cutting edge holds neither allure or revulsion.

Nothing matters.


I think Dante wrote about this. He called them levels…


Today I’m not drinking because I found a bad guy in the attic and I called the authorities…

How come you’re not drinking?

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Comments (2)

  1. Avatar
    Marilyn in Seattle
    Apr 15, 2015

    How come you're not drinking?
    I am scared straight
    Excellent information and I saw myself…the swirl of the circle around the drain.

    Life is SO much better this side of the hell….thank you.

    • Marilyn
      Apr 15, 2015

      What a great and apropos analogy – swirl around the drain… life passing us by with booze the only diversion. Life is so much better and thank you for saying it. Sometimes I forget to say it.

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