The Four Stages of Alcoholism: Pre, Early, Middle, & Late

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They will then explain they were just looking for a good time, which involved drinking. Treatment of alcoholism in this stage is relatively challenging because of the heavy denial that is present and the psychological dependence on alcohol. Most adults will not experience any negative effects from drinking a few glasses of beer or wine or shots, even if they drink this amount of alcohol daily. It is when the volume of alcohol consumed keeps increasing, and alcohol tolerance develops that problems may start to arise. Alcohol abuse can lead to AUD (alcohol use disorder) as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), which lists 11 symptoms connected with the signs and At this point, an individual may develop a serious disease, such as cirrhosis of the liver.

Cirrhosis can cause a host of other health problems, including high blood pressure, which can lead to the development of enlarged veins in the esophagus called esophageal varices. These are similar to the varicose veins that some people develop in their legs. But esophageal varices are prone to 3 stages of alcoholism rupture, and when they do, the alcoholic can bleed to death. 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. Fluid buildup in end-stage liver disease is a particularly ominous sign.

Long-Term Health Problems Associated with Chronic Heavy Drinking

Typically, drinking too much doesn’t prevent most people from going to work even now. It is easiest to diagnose a person with alcohol use disorder in this final stage of it, but treatment, when one has been drinking so much, is most difficult. Medically-supervised detox will be required in almost all cases.

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Late-stage, or end-stage alcoholism, is a full-blown addiction to alcohol, almost always requiring alcohol detox to start recovery. The person now spends the bulk of their time servicing the disease by drinking. In this last stage of alcoholism, the individual often exhibits both physical and mental health issues.

Impact on your health

By the time they’ve reached the third and final stage of alcoholism, drinking has consumed their lives. Their alcohol withdrawal symptoms are so severe that they must drink continually to avoid them. The need for a medically supervised detox depends, in part, on the length of time of alcohol abuse and usual volume of consumption. In some cases, alcohol withdrawal can present heightened risks and even lead to fatality. Individuals who are at risk for withdrawal effects require supervised medical detox. As a result, it is recommended that anyone seeking to detox from alcohol consult a medical professional first.

stages of alcoholism

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