The Three Stages of Alcoholism: Early, Middle, & End-Stage Alcoholism

End-stage alcoholism typically presents a number of health complications. The liver gains fats and inflammation, eventually leading to liver scarring. This stage does not have to be a final stage and treatment is still a good course to regain physical well-being. This occurs when the first drink is taken, which can occur well before the legal age of 21. It involves trying different types of alcohol and often involves binge drinking, consuming high amounts in relatively short amounts of time.

  • If you try to quit on your own, you soon develop withdrawal symptoms, including pain and discomfort.
  • Because of this, it is important to remain educated on the signs and symptoms of alcoholism.

Anyone who suffers from an addiction to alcohol, clinically known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), most likely developed the affliction over the course of months or years. At this point, you must check yourself into an alcohol detox center, followed by an effective alcohol addiction treatment program. Your entire life probably revolves around getting drunk, and you may feel hopeless and depressed if you can’t drink. Additionally, drinking has become a compulsive habit that you cannot control. The final stage of AUD is characterized by a complete loss of control over alcohol use. In other words, a person feels that they need to drink to function.

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During the early stages of the disease, the person may drink heavily and may experience hangovers in between drinking episodes. However, during the end stage, the addiction has taken over, and the person may no longer be able to control their drinking impulses. The person may have already tried to stop drinking multiple times with little to no success.

How long does alcoholic last?

Alcohol detection tests can measure alcohol in the blood for up to 6 hours, on the breath for 12 to 24 hours, urine for 12 to 24 hours (72 or more hours with more advanced detection methods), saliva for 12 to 24 hours, and hair for up to 90 days. The half-life of alcohol is between 4-5 hours.

End-stage alcoholism is basically the same thing as hitting rock bottom. This stage recognizes individuals who drink but experience minimum consequences due to their drinking habits. Individuals who fall in this stage may drink for purposes of experimentation. At this phase, there is no developed tolerance to alcohol or use of alcohol to self-medicate. Warning signs may include a desire to use alcohol to “fit in” or to appease curiosity.

What Are Some Risk Factors of Alcoholism?

You’re aware of the adverse effects, but no longer have control over your alcohol consumption. Frequent, uncontrolled alcohol abuse eventually leads to problem drinking. While any form of alcohol abuse is problematic, the term “problem drinker” refers to someone who starts experiencing the impacts of their habit.

They may also feel under the weather if they start their day without a drink. For those with severe physical dependence, alcohol withdrawal may result in dangerous withdrawal symptoms such as seizures or even death. Consequently, in this stage, most addiction professionals sober house recommend detoxing from alcohol under medical supervision. Late-stage, or end-stage alcoholism, is a full-blown addiction to alcohol, often with damaging physical and mental health effects. Alcohol detox and treatment are nearly always necessary at this stage.

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It is considered binge drinking when a woman consumes about four standard alcoholic drinks within a two-hour period, or a man drinks five drinks in the same amount of time. Blackouts from drinking occur when alcohol shuts down the area of the brain responsible for making memories, leading to periods of time the person doesn’t remember. If a person enjoys the feeling of rapidly getting drunk, or seeks intoxication as quickly as possible, this may indicate the beginnings of a deeper issue. They may not drink every day, but they drink frequently, and most social activities and nights out involve drinking. When a person regularly drinks alcohol to excess, their body and mind start to physically and psychologically adjust, leaving them open to the progression of AUD.

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. This deficiency can also cause dementia if not treated immediately. 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.

Looking for Signs of Early-Stage Alcoholism

Adults who did not previously drink as much, may turn to alcohol after a traumatic event or while grieving. A tolerance to alcohol develops, and they end up drinking more to achieve the same level of drunkenness. This behavior is dangerous because it damages neural pathways, setting the body up for the first stage of alcoholism. Typically, an individual reaches end-stage alcoholism after years of alcohol abuse. At this point, people who have spent years drinking may have developed numerous health and mental conditions in addition to their alcohol abuse. The individual may have isolated themselves, lost their job, or damaged major organs in the body.

alcoholism stages

Those who receive help from us get our undivided attention and will slowly go through alcoholic recovery stages. As you can see, there are many risk factors and signs of an alcoholic personality to consider. If you haven’t had alcohol in a few hours, you may start feeling shaky, nervous, and nauseous, all of which may only be alleviated with alcohol.

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