The Stages of Alcoholism: Early, Chronic, and End Stage

end stage alcoholism

During end-stage alcoholism, a person may struggle with involuntary rapid eye movement (nystagmus) or weakness and paralysis of the eye muscles due to thiamin (vitamin B1) deficiency. Research has shown that long-term alcohol misuse can have a lasting impact on the brain, although some areas may recover with abstinence. The most serious effect is Korsakoff’s syndrome, characterized in part by an inability to remember recent events or to learn new information. Family therapy also plays a significant role in treatment, addressing the broader impact of substance use on the patient’s family. The approach involves facilitating discussions and problem-solving sessions to support the patient’s recovery journey.

At this point, drinking is no longer just a casual social activity — it’s become a daily habit that may be used to cope with stress, anxiety or other emotional problems. Alcohol abuse treatment programs teach people how to move into an alcohol-free lifestyle while teaching them healthy coping strategies. Effective treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) emphasizes the importance of evidence-based treatment options. It offers resources for health professionals to recommend the most suitable patient interventions.

Changes in areas responsible for motivation, reinforcement, and emotion processing can lead to a diminished ability to experience pleasure, thereby perpetuating the cycle of addiction. However, with evidence-based treatments, individuals can work towards reversing some of the damage, developing healthier coping mechanisms, and ultimately, achieving recovery. End-stage alcoholism lasts for a period of 12 months, after which, if left untreated, the affected person develops fatal physical and mental health symptoms. The end-stage alcoholic suffers from a host of physical problems, including severe damage to vital organs such as the liver.

What is end-stage alcoholism?

Understanding what makes someone addicted to alcohol can be the first step in helping a person seek treatment. Depending on how bad their alcohol abuse has been or if medically-assisted alcohol detox will be needed for withdrawal symptoms, entering into a treatment center may be a necessary option. Professional medical staff can assist in the difficult process of withdrawal, making the transition into sobriety less daunting. Behavioral therapies are crucial in modifying attitudes and behaviors related to alcohol use, helping to build a strong social support system, and setting reachable goals. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), in particular, can occur one-on-one or in small groups and is instrumental in developing coping strategies and avoiding triggers.

Alternatively, someone could be said to be an alcoholic if they regularly drink alcohol to the point of intoxication or even blacking out, despite having days on which they refrain from drinking altogether. Other than the fact that someone is drinking more than usual, it might be hard to detect that there’s even a problem because outwardly the alcoholic appears normal. By Buddy TBuddy T is a writer and founding member of medications and drugs that cause hair loss the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. Because he is a member of a support group that stresses the importance of anonymity at the public level, he does not use his photograph or his real name on this website. Contact The Recovery Village Palmer Lake if you have questions about treatment or if you’re ready to get on the path to recovery and end your addiction to alcohol.

Chronic alcohol disorder, meaning excessive alcohol consumption, can literally take years off of your life. On average, end-stage alcoholics have their lives shortened by 30 years due to the diseases that are directly linked to their drinking. Once you have reached stage three, you’ll no longer be able to hide your alcohol abuse. Changes in the way you look, act and deal with everyday life will be obvious to those around you.

end stage alcoholism

These are similar to the varicose veins that some people develop in their legs. But esophageal varices are prone to rupture, and when they do, the alcoholic can bleed to death. Even if your loved one seeks help, you may still need help and support to overcome the effects. Many people refer to alcoholism as a “family disease” because it can have a major impact on all members of the family whether they realize it or not. Moreover, malnutrition is a common issue due to the replacement of nutritious food with alcohol and the impairment of nutrient absorption and metabolism.

Evidence-Based Treatment Approaches for Alcohol Addiction

You will experience the physical effects of alcoholism like weight gain or loss, stomach bloating, alcohol withdrawal headaches and shakiness, particularly when you’re craving a drink. These physiological changes contribute to the increasing tolerance seen in early-stage alcoholics. Despite heavy alcohol consumption, they may show few signs of intoxication or ill effects from drinking, such as a hangover. And as tolerance builds, they’ll begin to drink more and more to achieve the same buzz or high they’re used to. The prognosis for individuals with end-stage alcoholism is generally poor, with a significantly reduced life expectancy and quality of life.

Mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, are common among those struggling with chronic AUD. Socially, chronic alcoholism can strain relationships, lead to job loss, and cause financial instability. Most people in end-stage alcoholism will require a medically assisted detox to help manage severe and life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Medications used in treating alcohol withdrawal include Antabuse (disulfiram), alcohol use and cancer american cancer society Revia or Depade (naltrexone), and Campral (acamprosate). Overall, chronic alcoholism not only deteriorates physical health but also erodes the fabric of social interactions, often leading to isolation and conflict within personal relationships. The complexity of its impact necessitates a multifaceted approach to treatment and recovery, addressing the disorder’s physiological and psychological dimensions.

  1. Psychologically, chronic alcoholism can lead to cognitive impairments and brain disorders.
  2. Alcohol, in fact, is the cause of more than 50 percent of liver-disease related deaths in this country, and alcohol-related liver disease costs more than $3 billion annually.
  3. Death is usually caused by a combination of internal bleeding and a buildup of toxins within the body and can include seizures and/or cardiac arrest.
  4. There are numerous support groups that can help with long-term sobriety, including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), SMART Recovery, Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS), Women for Sobriety, and Rational Recovery.
  5. Call an addiction specialist such as SAMHSA today to get advice and support with seeking treatment for alcohol addiction.

This nutritional deficiency further exacerbates the body’s ability to recover and fight infections, making end-stage alcoholics particularly vulnerable to illnesses. In the short term, alcohol will reach your blood within about 5 to 10 minutes of taking a drink. Blood alcohol levels peak about minutes later, and within a few hours, the alcohol will be broken down through metabolism and the liver.

Health Conditions Associated With End Stage Alcoholism

After years of heavy alcohol abuse, the liver begins to fail at metabolizing alcohol fast enough and begins to pump it back out into the bloodstream. Over time, this causes the liver to harden and creates scarring on the liver tissue, known as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is often the final stage of alcoholic liver disease and is both severe and incurable. Stage four, also known as end-stage barbiturate withdrawal symptoms alcoholism, is when serious health conditions like cirrhosis of the liver, high blood pressure and alcohol-related dementia can develop. You drink every day, and everything in your life now revolves around alcohol. You will likely lose your job, you’ll have interactions with the police due to your binge drinking, and your relationships with your loved ones may be fractured.

Recovered is not a medical, healthcare or therapeutic services provider and no medical, psychiatric, psychological or physical treatment or advice is being provided by Recovered. If you are facing a medical emergency or considering suicide or self harm, please call 911 immediately. Edmund has an extensive background in addiction research and medical writing, working collaboratively with doctors, substance use disorder specialists, and clinical experts across all content on Recovered. The FHE Health team is committed to providing accurate information that adheres to the highest standards of writing. If one of our articles is marked with a ‘reviewed for accuracy and expertise’ badge, it indicates that one or more members of our team of doctors and clinicians have reviewed the article further to ensure accuracy.

In fact, it contributes to about 88,000 deaths annually in the U.S., making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Psychologically, chronic alcoholism can lead to cognitive impairments and brain disorders. Long-term misuse of alcohol can damage the brain, affecting memory, decision-making, and emotional regulation.

Stage two is triggered when you experience your first alcohol-related blackout. At this point, you have likely started to lie about your alcohol use, and you take steps to conceal your drinking from friends, family and coworkers. Because alcohol is orally ingested, it’s processed through your digestive system and liver, leading to rapid absorption into your blood.

However, it is essential to understand that alcohol dependence is a treatable medical condition, even if recovery from end-stage alcoholism is challenging. The presence of alcohol use disorder (AUD) often coincides with other substance use disorders, exacerbating the challenges faced in personal connections. Over 40% of individuals with AUD have experienced another substance use disorder, indicating a common vulnerability and potentially more profound interpersonal difficulties (NIAAA). Some chronic alcoholics develop a condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which results from a thiamine (vitamin B-1) deficiency. The condition, which is sometimes called wet brain, is characterized by eye movement disorders, loss of muscle coordination, confusion and memory issues.

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