What Is End Stage Alcoholism?

End stage alcoholism is the final stage of alcoholism. This stage is the most destructive. 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. Another consequence is the risk to their overall health as the organs shut down.

What Are the Stages of Alcoholism?

Alcohol abuse has many stages. The stages of alcohol abuse are broken down into 6 categories. These are:

Social Drinking

The first stage is social drinking. This is a comparatively non-threatening level of drinking, which may not always lead to alcohol abuse. This is generally consuming a few drinks when out with friends.

Binge Drinking

The second stage is binge drinking. Binge drinking is a common practice affecting 1 in 6 American adults, resulting in the consumption of 17 billion drinks each year. Binge drinking can be temporary, or occur often, signaling the threat of future heavy drinking or alcohol abuse.

Heavy Drinking

The third stage is heavy drinking. At this stage, the person has taken too much of a liking to alcohol. They may drink more frequently, each day, or drink excessive amounts when drinking socially. Having more than 5 drinks in 2 hours is commonplace (and problematic).

Alcohol Dependency

The fourth stage is alcohol dependency. At this point, the drinker depends on alcohol to feel “normal” and may experience negative symptoms or feelings when they are not drinking. This dependency may have underlying emotional and mental motivations.

Addiction/Alcoholism

The fifth stage is addiction to alcohol or alcoholism. When a person has become an alcoholic, they begin to exhibit a variety of behaviors that have a negative impact on their health and personal and professional lives. For example, alcoholics will continue to drink despite it causing them negative consequences.

End Stage Alcoholism

Lastly, the final stage, known as the end-stage of alcohol abuse is the point where the alcoholic is experiencing very serious health and mental issues, and could possibly be in danger of death.

End Stage Alcoholism and Health Complications

End stage alcoholism typically presents a number of health complications. First, the liver becomes damaged, and possibly permanently. The liver gains fats and inflammation, eventually leading to liver scarring. The result of the liver damage is often liver disease or cirrhosis.

The damaged liver can cause other complications in the body since it is a vital organ. The liver is responsible for over 500 tasks to ensure the body is functioning as healthy as possible. Other health complications like heart problems and stroke stem from chronic alcohol abuse in end stage alcoholism. Risks of dementia and cancer increase. Even brain damage and hepatitis can occur in end stage alcoholics.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and End Stage Alcoholism

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS), also called alcohol dementia, occurs most frequently in end stage alcoholism. With this syndrome, there is a shortage of vitamin B-1, which manifests as dementia-like traits. Also called Wernicke Encephalopathy, this condition produces leg tremors, staggering, vision changes, and problems maintaining balance. Lastly, people are often confused and have problems staying sharp or learning new things. Drooping lids, hallucinations, and double vision are also symptoms associated with this condition.