Stages Of Alcohol Recovery | Four Steps To Alcohol Recovery

Stages Of Alcohol Recovery

Embarking on a journey toward sobriety is not an easy endeavor. Deciding on what method of rehabilitation is just one of many decisions to be made throughout the recovery process. Other decisions necessary prior to engaging in alcohol rehabilitation include, who will be my emotional support. How will my finances be impacted? What should I expect during detox? There are stages of alcohol recovery that should be considered when you’re seeking long-term sobriety. Here is some information on treatment methods and what you can expect. 

Overall, alcohol recovery is complicated and there are several life-changing decisions to be made. To help make the decision easier, it is helpful to understand what will happen to each individual as they move through the recovery process. This article hopes to be able to answer how alcohol recovery can impact someone’s body, emotions, and relationships while in rehabilitation.

Our Colorado Alcohol Rehabilitation center is focused on providing individuals and families with guidance and care during their recovery journey. We can help address addiction and underlying causes that may trigger a relapse. For more information contact us directly at 855-281-5588

Phyical Stages Of Alcohol Recovery

What is Alcoholism?

According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorder, 5th Edition, alcoholism pertains to the loss of control over alcohol consumption leading to severe cravings, physical/emotional dependence, and increased tolerance. This can be hard to notice in a real-world setting. 

A good way to assess alcoholism is to look for the number of consequences an individual’s drinking behaviors may cause. A higher number of severe consequences may indicate the presence of alcoholism. Common consequences to be aware of include:

  • Excessive debt
  • Poor relationships
  • Legal problems
  • Fixation on alcohol consumption
  • Poor physical health
  • Decreased mental health

What Defines Alcoholism?

Alcoholism and alcoholic behaviors can be drastically different for everyone. If you suspect yourself or a loved one may be struggling with alcoholism, it can be helpful to look for “clues” or common alcoholic behaviors. Common alcoholic behaviors include:

  • Persistent invitations to bars, taverns, or other alcohol-related events.
  • Declines engaging in physical activities.
  • Consistently reports feeling ill.
  • Regular lack of memory.
  • Increased and persistent irritability.
  • Depressed or anxious thoughts.

Stages of Alcohol Recovery

Alcohol recovery does not have a “one-size-fits-all” format. Recovery is often tailored to fit everyone’s specific needs. Recovery follows a stage-based format to help maintain sobriety. Each stage is designed to build off the previous stage. Mastery of all stages is important for recovery. Significant research has shown the stage model of recovery works well and is highly successful.

What are the 4 Steps in Recovery?

Alcohol recovery follows a stage-based model to help treat alcoholism. Understanding what stage a person may be in is important to know what treatment methods will be beneficial. Each stage of recovery must be mastered prior to moving on to the next stage. Knowing what stages there are is important when deciding how to approach rehabilitation. Definitions of each stage are available below.

Stage 1: 

Treatment Initiation: Earliest stage of recovery and is designed to develop awareness about alcohol use and its potential impact on an individual’s quality of life.

Stage 2: 

Early Abstinence: Medical professionals are included in the recovery process at this time. They can help the person to move through withdrawal symptoms safely (eg., hospitalization).

Stage 3: 

Maintenance of Abstinence: Once a person is “clean” for 90 days or more. The person may begin to reintegrate back into a real-world setting (eg., home, work, etc.)

Stage 4: 

Advanced Recovery: Final stage of recovery. There is a strong commitment to treatment and lifestyle changes have been adopted safely and effectively.

Physical Changes During Recovery

Throughout the 4 stages of recovery, there can be numerous changes occurring within a person’s body. This is expected and will occur for each person who is engaging in rehabilitation. Physical changes can be quite uncomfortable, but it can be helpful to know that these symptoms will go away over time. Physical changes are often the worst within the first 1-4 weeks of recovery. They tend to subside over the initial 1-3 months of recovery. It is important to stay dedicated to recovery to avoid relapse. Common physical changes while quitting alcohol include:

  • Initial weight gain prior to weight loss
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Decreased concentration and focus
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbance

Emotional Changes During Recovery

Physical changes are not the only experience a person will go through during the recovery process. A person’s mental health and emotions can be impacted as well. Like physical changes, emotional changes can be quite uncomfortable at first. Over time they do improve. Having a sponsor or engaging in psychotherapy can help in dealing with emotional changes. Common emotional changes while quitting drinking include:

  • Increased depression and anxiety
  • Social isolation
  • Anger and irritability
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Hyperactivity and hypervigilance

Stages Of Alcohol Recovery

How Long Does It Take for the Body to be “Normal”?

It can take a while for the human body to recover from extensive use of alcohol. In fact, this is where many people often lose hope and report relapsing when they may attempt to quit on their own. The body can take months to years to fully recover. Many people quit drinking for multiple reasons, however, the expectation of seeing immediate results can be disheartening. 

Common symptoms of stopping alcohol use can be quite uncomfortable. These symptoms do go away over time; however, these symptoms do create a potential relapse risk. Some common symptoms include:

  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness
  • Fatigue
  • Isolation

Alcohol detox can be dangerous if not overseen by a medical professional. It’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of withdrawal and what to do to help prevent life-threatening issues. 

During the alcohol recovery process, there are various stages that a person should expect as they progress in treatment. Learn more about the stages of alcohol rehab here

How Do I Treat Myself After Quitting Drinking?

Treating yourself kindly cannot be understated when quitting alcohol. There are few things that are more difficult than quitting alcohol when there is an alcohol-use disorder present. Being able to treat yourself with self-compassion is not only recommended but is crucial for long-term sobriety. 

Self-compassion can often be achieved by engaging in self-care activities. Self-care can vary for everyone, but it can play a powerful role in recovery. Some common self-care activities include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Drawing, painting, doodling, etc.
  • Healthy diet
  • Video games
  • Psychotherapy
  • Sponsorship

It’s important to understand the risks of alcohol relapse, but also know that as a relapsing disease, setbacks are not a sign of failure.

Alcohol Recovery Stages

How Can AspenRidge Help?

AspenRidge Recovery is Colorado’s leading alcohol addiction recovery center helping thousands to overcome excessive drinking and alcohol use disorder. Our various programs aim to treat AUD using different approaches, including dual diagnosis therapy, substance misuse help, cognitive therapy, holistic approaches, group therapy, and more. While we don’t offer alcohol detox, we work with Colorado-specific detox centers that have medical supervision to help individuals progress in their recovery.

The Joint Commission also certifies our center, and our licensed counselors are trained, specifically, in substance misuse and addiction. We offer the following programs:

We can help guide you through the different stages of alcohol rehab and next steps. It’s also critical to understand that treatment is different for everyone and, therefore, a tailored treatment approach is important. Contact us today for more information about Colorado alcohol rehabilitation at 855-281-5588.

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