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The Jellinek Chart (Modified)

 Editor    Feb 07 : 18:55
 None    Classes


Dr. E.M. Jellinek, a native of Brooklyn, NY is recognized as one of the premier researchers in the field of alcoholism. He was one of the strongest proponents of alcoholism as a disease. He even went on to typify drinkers into four classes, with the two most severe classes being alcoholics. His writings and descriptions did more for the acceptance of the disease concept of alcoholism and of A.A. as a respectable therapeutic modality than any other medical force of the time. Most every patient in A.A.-based recovery centers in this country encounters the "Jellinek Curve", which describes the progression of the disease. Although, in the Chemical Recovery ministry, we do not concur with all of Dr Jellineks theories, his chart is very useful in better understanding the stages of addiction.

Jellinek Chart (Modified)

The Symptoms and Phases of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse

Prodromal Phase

(Early Warning)

Acute Phase


Chronic Phase


- First Blackout

- Sneak Drinks

- Preoccupied with drinking

- Gulp drinks

- Avoids Reference

- Frequent Blackouts

- Loss of Control


(Which leads to the Acute Phase of Alcoholism)

- Alibis

- Reproof

- Extravagance

- Aggression

- Remorse

- Water Wagon

- Changes Pattern

- Social Decay

- Problems on the Job

- Family Changes

- Seeks Help

- Resentments

- Attempts Escape

- Maintains Supply

- Chain Drinking

- Gross Physical and           

   Psychological Changes

- Prolonged Benders

(Which leads to the Chronic Phase of Alcoholism)

- Decreased Tolerance

- Ethical Deterioration

- Paralogical Thinking

- Addict Jealousies

- Indefinable Fears

- Tremors and Shakes

- Psycho-Motor Inhibitions

- Religious Need

Approximately 1 of 8

drinkers will become an



Chronic Alcohol Addict

Increased Tolerance

Vicious Cycle

Contact Phase

Possible Outcomes












Prodromal (Early Warning) Phase 

First Blackout    Top

This should not be confused with passing out. Blackouts are a type of amnesia that occurs when we are unable to remember certain things about our drinking. As the old joke ironically says, "I must have had a great night, because I don't remember a thing".

Sneak Drinks    Top

When a person does not have a drinking problem, sneaking a drink would seem ludicrous to them. However the person who has a drinking problem does not want people to really see how much they use so on the outside they appear to be drinking the same amount as anyone else but really have to drink much more. This person would be the one to go to the bar to get the "rounds" or would always be the "bartender" at parties. This way he can get more drink without being noticed.

Preoccupied with Drinking    Top

A person becomes preoccupied with drinking when their thoughts become mainly about when they will drink, what they will drink and how soon they will be drinking. People may talk about alcohol a lot. They may carry it with them, in a flask, for example. They may even start brewing it themselves, thus allowing them to drink cheap and often.

Gulps Drinks    Top

When a person gulps their drink, it would imply that he is trying to reach a state of inebriation faster. He probably feels that he cannot be as bold or as confident, sober, as he can be after a few drinks.

Avoids Reference    Top

At this point, other people see that the drinker has a problem. He avoids talking about it and quickly changes the subject when it arises, avoiding people who give him grief about it.

Frequent Blackouts    Top

At this point, the drinker is frequently forgetting what happens when he starts drinking. He constantly has to apologize for his actions. More and more, people are noticing his problems and bringing it to his attention thus causing him to retreat further into himself.

Loss of Control    Top

Here, the addict is unable to predict, with absolute certainty, what will happen when he uses. This is a true loss of control. He will start using, maybe wake up on a bus or in the street, not knowing how he got there. He has crossed the line from abuse to addiction.

Increased Tolerance    Top

Now the addict is using more of his drug to get him to the point he wants to be. As his body relies on the drug more and more, he will reach a stage where he must drink just to be normal.


Acute (Middle) Phase


Alibis    Top

The addict will make excuses to drink. "It's my birthday" "It's the weekend" "I deserve this after the week I had". To him these are all valid reasons and deflect the fact that he has a problem.

Reproof    Top

Even though the addict feels that his drinking affects only him, this is never the case. His family, friends and co-workers will now be affected and will let him know by their anger and frustration.

Extravagance    Top

Here, in order to deflect criticism and anger, the addict will act generous in order to manipulate those who feel this way. He will buy expensive things to look good, while the rent money gets spent on drink and drugs.

Aggression    Top

The addict gets angry, even violent, whenever his choice of lifestyle is questioned. Again, this is simply a defense to avoid seeing that he has a problem, thus allowing him to continue drinking.

Remorse    Top

The addict, seeing the damage he is causing, comes to temporary sanity and feels remorse at the hurt he has caused. He relates it to drink and agrees with his persecutors that he needs to change.

Water Wagon    Top

Because the addict still does not truly see his powerlessness, he will try to stop on his "own". He will tell his friends, with a sad face, that he is "on the wagon". Due to a lack of surrender, this way never works.

Changes Pattern    Top

Here an addict will blame his drinking problem on something he is not doing right. For example, he may feel that if he only sticks to beer or wine he will not have a problem. An addict never succeeds at controlled drinking. If he could, he wouldn't be where he is.

Social Decay    Top

The addict has now swapped his social circle and replaced it with one filled with people just like him. These people will not judge him or get upset at him when he is drunk. He no longer feels comfortable around non-or social drinkers.

Problems on the Job    Top

The addict is now unable to function properly or hide his problem on the job. At this time, he could be in danger of losing his job or at least attending a drug program.

Family Changes    Top

The family of an addict adjusts in very unhealthy ways. They can become co-dependant and will protect and enable the addict to continue their lifestyle. They may also become bitter and resentful, venting frustrations on each other instead of dealing with the problem. The negative impact is progressive and works to break down the family entirely.

Seeks Help    Top

The addict will look for help for all the wrong reasons. He will seek marital advice to fix his marriage, financial advice for his money woes but not deal with the real issue - his drinking.

Resentments    Top

The addict feels that he has done all he can possibly can to fix his problems but people are still upset at him. He now starts to resent those around him and blame them for his drinking and drugging.

Attempts Escape    Top

The addict may, at this point, attempt to cure himself by moving, a "geographic cure", figuring that his problems are a result of his surroundings. This will not work because he takes himself with him and still does not deal with his drinking.

Maintains Supply    Top

Afraid of being without, and resigned to his addiction, the addict will ensure that he has a steady supply of his drug.

Chain Drinking    Top

At this point the addict is drinking constantly. There are no more hangovers and alcohol is needed just to feel normal.

Gross Physical and Psychological Changes    Top

As his body is being poisoned due to the excesses of drugs and alcohol, his overall health deteriorates and his conscience and ability to reason breaks down.

Prolonged Benders    Top

His life is now given over to the drug. It is not unusual for him to spend days or weeks doing nothing but drinking.


Chronic (Late) Phase

Decreased Tolerance    Top

The addict has very little tolerance for his drug. Just a small amount will get him high. At this point, everything he does, he does while high.

Ethical Deterioration    Top

The addict loses his grip on right and wrong. He will do things for drugs or money that would, if sober, appall him.

Paralogical Thinking    Top

The addicts thinking will no longer run a logical course. He will find it difficult to tell reality from illusion.

Addict Jealousies    Top

He will become jealous of people in his life for no reason. He may accuse his spouse of cheating on him without rationale.

Indefinable Fears    Top

He will suffer from paranoia, unable to overcome a sense of fear and dread he feels. He will hide from things that are not there.

Tremors and Shakes    Top

These physical symptoms are a result of him poisoning himself with alcohol and drugs.

Psycho-Motor Inhibitions    Top

His ability to do simple tasks is greatly diminished. He will be unable to coordinate lifting his foot to step up on a sidewalk.

Religious Need     Top

The addict is so desperate at this point, he will try to "quick fix" his problem with religion. He will not be willing to put a plan into action that can really help him recover. He still wants to do it the easy, painless way.


Chronic Alcohol Addict


Vicious Cycle    Top

At this point the addict's situation is chronic. His body cannot process the alcohol as well as it could before. The only possible outcomes here are recovery, insanity or death.

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