Drinking alcohol can be draining. 16 percent of Americans have reported binge drinking in national surveys. Excessive alcohol use kills 95,000 people a year, including automobile accidents.
But it harms people in different ways. A person can exhibit many different alcoholism signs, ranging from mild to severe. If they show a significant dependency, they may have end-stage alcoholism.
What are the different stages of alcoholism? What defines end-stage alcoholism? Is it fatal, and how can a person receive treatment for it?
The Stages of Alcoholism
Alcoholism involves an impaired ability to control alcohol consumption, in spite of the consequences of it. A person may be aware that their heavy drinking is causing personal problems. But they cannot stop themselves from drinking again.
The reason why they return to alcohol is brain chemistry. Alcohol changes receptors in the brain that facilitate pleasurable feelings.
At first, a person experiences pleasure from drinking alcohol. As time goes on, the receptors change so they require drinks in order to feel pleasure.
The receptors stop working for small drinks, so they require more in order to feel at ease. This change in brain chemistry leads doctors to pronounce three separate stages of alcoholism.
Stage one involves early abuse. A person may binge drink, consuming several beverages in one sitting. They may feel signs of withdrawal like a headache when they don’t drink.
Stage two can take place over several years. A person may show no signs that their alcohol consumption is interfering with their life.
But they may show an unusual attachment to drinking. They may feel dependent on it in order to socialize or be happy. They may start to engage in risky behaviors.
Stage three is end-stage alcoholism. Developing end-stage alcoholism can take years. There is no one way for everyone to reach it, and not everyone who reaches stage two gets to it.
End-Stage Alcoholism Symptoms
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines eleven symptoms of alcoholism. Anyone with at least two symptoms has an alcohol dependency. Someone with end-stage alcoholism will have at least six.
The most common ones include drinking longer than intended and being unable to stop drinking. A person may try to reduce their consumption, or they may try to stop cold turkey. If they return to alcohol, they have a dependency.
A person may have wanted a drink so badly they could not think about anything else. They may spend a lot of their time drinking or hungover. This may have harmed their personal responsibilities, including taking care of their family.
Despite the harm that alcohol has done to them, a person may be unable to stop. They may cut back on other activities so they can drink. The activities they do may involve significant personal risk, like having unsafe sex.
Many people with end-stage alcoholism suffer from anxiety, depression, or memory loss. A person may drink more than they previously have in order to feel good. They may feel intense signs of withdrawal.
Is Alcoholism Terminal?
The term, “end-stage,” leads many people to believe that end-stage alcoholism is terminal. It is true that advanced alcohol consumption can cause a person’s death. However, that’s not always the case.
A person can get drunk, then get into an automobile accident. They could fall from a surface or get into a fight with somebody.
But the most common cause of death from alcoholism is a disease. Alcohol-related liver disease occurs from excessive consumption. It can cause the liver to fail, resulting in organ failure and death.
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a brain disease that is caused by regular and heavy consumption of alcohol and a lack of vitamin B-1. A person’s brain begins to bleed, causing muscle weakness and confusion. As the bleeding continues, a person can experience memory loss and malnourishment.
But anyone can receive help for their alcohol dependency. It does not matter what stage of alcoholism they are at. If they agree to receive treatment.
Treating End-Stage Alcoholism
Alcohol rehab begins with detoxication. Because end-stage alcoholism affects the brain significantly, detoxication can take time. A person can receive medication that soothes receptors in the brain while mitigating pain.
After the detox is done, a person speaks to a counselor. The counselor learns about their life, including what their history with alcohol involves. They come up with unique therapies that can help treat their symptoms.
Many end-stage patients stay in inpatient care. They enjoy services like cognitive behavioral therapy. This is a style of therapy that lets them understand the thought patterns that led them to drink.
They participate in art therapy, helping them express traumatic memories. They can interact with others from similar backgrounds. Alcoholism can be isolating, so group therapy can mitigate these feelings.
An inpatient stay can last several months. When a person is ready to leave, they can move into outpatient programs. They can see a counselor and take medications while going to work and being with their family.
Inland Detox Is Here to Help
End-stage alcoholism is the culmination of alcohol dependency. Alcohol affects brain receptors, leading a person to drink excessive amounts in order to be happy. This can progress into attachment to alcohol, and this attachment can lead to end-stage symptoms.
Symptoms include depression, excessive consumption, and extreme pain during withdrawal. End-stage alcoholism can result in death in several ways.
But a person can detox and receive personalized treatment. This can involve inpatient or outpatient measures.
Whatever your dependence on alcoholism is, you can get help. Inland Detox provides support for Riverside County residents. Contact us today.