Late Stages of Alcoholism

Late Stages of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is generally thought to progress through three phases, the early, middle and late stage alcoholism. Certain specific symptoms are characteristic of each stage of alcoholism, although from a practical viewpoint, these alcoholism stages often overlap and it is somewhat difficult to ascertain what stage an alcoholic is in on a given point of time.

Early Stage of Alcoholism

At the early stage, the alcoholic develops increasing levels of tolerance to alcohol. The body starts to adapt to progressively greater quantities of alcoholic substances. Subsequently, the alcoholic, even when he keeps increasing the consumption of alcohol, notices fewer effects and his body continues to function more or less in the normal fashion.

The tolerance is achieved not only because the alcoholic consumes too much alcohol, but because his or her body is adapting fast to the effects of alcohol and registering physical changes within. At this early stage, the alcoholic thus suffers less from the adverse effects of alcohol, such as:

  • Hangover
  • Blackouts
  • Withdrawal
  • Intoxication

It is for this reason that an early stage alcoholic is not easily distinguishable from a person who just happens to be a heavy drinker. Accordingly, the alcoholic at this early stage of alcoholism would not face any specific problem at his or her workplace. The drinking would not to any considerable effect show on his or her conduct or performance at work. It is for these very reasons that the alcoholic at this stage would never admit that he or she might be having a problem.

Late Stages of Alcoholism

Middle Stage of Alcoholism

The middle stage is often characterized by a physical dependence on alcohol. The alcoholic increasingly finds that his body can’t do without a specific regular amount of alcohol. He or she finds that he or she is unable to control his or her craving for alcohol. If, at the first stage, he or she consumed alcohol for its benefits and pleasure, he or she now drinks more and more to avoid the misery and pain caused by his or her prior consumption.

Because the body has become adapted to large amounts of alcohol, abstention now results in painful withdrawal symptoms. The body begins to suffer from a lack of alcohol. Thus it often happens that the alcoholic at this stage develops an all too powerful urge for alcohol and can’t limit his or her consumption to socially acceptable patterns, times or places.

Blackout is another distinct symptom of the middle stage. This does not mean that the alcoholic passes out during these sessions, but that he or she simply forgets what he or she has done or had been doing at such times. The brain either does not store these memories or store them in such a way that they become unrecoverable.

This is also the stage when the alcoholic starts to face increased problems at the workplace. The most common symptoms are:

  • Poor performance
  • Increased absences
  • Behavior problems with co-workers
  • Deterioration in general appearance

Late Stage of Alcohol Abuse

Late stage alcoholism is when the alcoholic is suffering from a number of ailments and his or her body has registered damages resulting from the toxic effects of alcohol. It often happens that the alcoholic at this stage has contracted damage to many of his or her vital organs and is suffering from many psychological and physical problems.

The alcoholic’s immunity level gets lowered and he or she becomes susceptible to many serious medical conditions, the most serious of these being cirrhosis of liver, heart failure, hepatitis, fatty liver, pancreatitis, brain damage, respiratory infections and malnutrition. While some of these conditions are reversible, others may not be. At this stage, the alcoholic often suffers from delusion, is almost always ill and is constantly drinking and he or she almost perpetually remains in a state of mental confusion.

He or she seems to be at a loss as to what has gone wrong and is on the verge of giving up the fight. At this stage, the alcoholic gets “the shakes” whenever he or she tries to refrain from consumption. When hallucination is combined with these shakes, the symptom is known as delirium tremens or DTs. DTs are a deadly kind of withdrawal symptom and unless the alcoholic is placed under immediate treatment, they can wreak havoc to his or her body and mind.

Another particular problem all alcoholics face is that of denial. Right from the early stages of alcoholism, he or she will deny that he or she is sick or has a problem. This continues through the middle stage and curiously, often persists even in the last stage. Even if he or she admits to the problem at the last stage and agrees to seek help, the recovery becomes difficult.

It often occurs that after a temporary dry-out period, the alcoholic relapses to his or her previous habits. It is thus important that an alcoholic seek help 800-303-2482 from professionals at the earliest stage of the disease. As he or she progresses through the stages of alcoholism, the chance of total recovery gets increasingly diminished.

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