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

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

For example, if you are the child of someone with an alcohol abuse problem, you’re four times more likely to have a substance use disorder. People who had difficult childhoods or have an underlying mental health disorder may also be more prone to move from an occasional, social drinker to someone who develops an abuse problem. Addressing underlying emotional and psychological issues can also aid in recovery. After ongoing heavy use, the body may develop a physical dependence in middle-stage alcoholism, where they’ll experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking. End-stage alcoholism, or alcohol addiction, is the most severe and dangerous stage of alcoholism. The effects of alcohol abuse are clear and visible, and drinking often becomes an all-day occurrence.

  • It’s a disease—an altering of the brain that controls a person’s motivation and ability to make healthy choices.
  • She began her journey in the addiction field working as a detox medication nurse shortly after graduation.
  • If you’re concerned about someone who drinks too much, ask a professional experienced in alcohol treatment for advice on how to approach that person.
  • According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), Alcohol Dependence and Alcohol Abuse are among the mental disorders that are most common.
  • 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.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a progressive disease with varying stages of severity. The end stage is the most dangerous and can lead to life-threatening health conditions. Alcohol is a toxic substance that the liver and kidneys struggle to process. Consuming too much alcohol can also damage the stomach and esophagus because of its acidity. The most common organs that fail are the liver, heart, and kidneys. Brain damage can also occur and result in alcohol-related brain damage.

Early Stage

Once detox is complete, alcoholics can begin tackling problematic behaviors related to their addiction and learn how to live sober again. Because alcoholism is a chronic disease and alcohol relapse is common, persistence is a necessity — but success is achievable. Later, it can cause fatigue, bleeding and bruising, itchy skin, yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes and fluid accumulation in the abdomen known as ascites.

what are the end stages of alcoholism

These conditions develop because of changes to chemicals in the brain like alterations to serotonin. Alcohol becomes an essential component for proper brain function, so the brain struggles to maintain balance without it. The result is serious discomfort and other symptoms of withdrawal like delirium tremens. Because alcoholism is a progressive condition, each stage is worse than the previous. People can also progress through each stage of alcoholism at different paces.

Treatment for end-stage alcoholism

It also includes binge drinking — a pattern of drinking where a male has five or more drinks within two hours or a female has at least four drinks within two hours. To be diagnosed, patients who screen positive for binge drinking or heavy alcohol use must experience at least two of the 11 outlined symptoms 9 within a 12-month period. You don’t need to wait until the brink of disaster to seek help. No matter the stage of the disease, if you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, seek professional help to achieve the benefits of quitting alcohol and learn how to live a healthier life.

Long-term addiction treatment programs can help manage cravings and prevent relapse, supplemented by nutritional support and management of comorbid medical conditions. Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding triggers and engaging in healthy activities, are important for maintaining sobriety. Recovering from end stage alcoholism is a difficult journey 12 that involves multiple treatment options and ongoing support. Between 90 and 100 percent of alcoholics develop a fatty liver, which can progress to cirrhosis.

Stage 5 – End Stage

Delirium tremens is a fatal condition that occurs in 1% of alcohol withdrawal cases. However, being a life-long drinker increases the risk of this deadly side effect occurring. The most destructive form of alcoholism is chronic alcoholism, an emotionally, socially and physically devastating disease. Alcoholism emerges from alcohol abuse, when there’s a pattern of drinking 3 stages of alcoholism despite negative consequences. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are both categorized as alcohol use disorders—affecting people of all ages and stages of life. The severity of the disorder lies on a spectrum, ranging from mild to severe dependence, also known as chronic alcoholism (although even a mild disorder can spiral out of control without early treatment).

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However, if a person has an attachment to drinking, such as relying on it to “have a good time,” they may develop problematic drinking habits and eventually develop an AUD. If alcohol dependence sets in, it will likely be more difficult to stop drinking because of the presence of withdrawal symptoms and possibly cravings for alcohol. Environmental and genetic factors aside, the sheer number of drinks people consume in a given period of time can put them at risk for developing an alcohol use disorder. Women who have a daily intake of more than three drinks, or more than seven per week, are considered at risk. Men, due to their physiological differences from women, are considered to be at risk if they partake in more than four drinks a day or more than 14 per week. Individuals with an alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) will likely experience the symptoms of physical dependence as well as psychological effects.

Below is an overview of how alcoholism starts, and how alcoholism progresses. When you understand how alcoholism begins and the stages in which alcoholism develops, it can be helpful to identify possible problems in yourself or your loved ones. According to psychologists and medical professionals, alcoholism isn’t as much about how much a person drinks, but it’s more about the effects of their drinking. For example, if problems of any kind occur when you drink, then you could have a drinking issue.

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