During the final stage of alcoholism, an individual is no longer in control over whether or not she drinks. Instead, the addiction has taken over her life and is in control.
Stages of Alcoholism
In the early stage of alcoholism, the individual drinks heavily but does not experience withdrawal symptoms in between episodes of drinking, with the exception of having hangovers. This person may have a high tolerance for alcohol and can function reasonably well while inebriated.
As the alcoholic moves into the second stage of the addiction, she is no longer drinking to feel in control or to improve her mood. Instead, the alcohol is being ingested to avoid experiencing the physical and psychological pain of withdrawal symptoms. The alcoholic may experience symptoms such as severe headaches, chills and nausea.
Characteristics of Final Stage of Alcoholism
A person in the final stage of alcoholism is in a state where he or she must consume alcohol on a daily basis in order to function. In earlier stages of addiction, the alcoholic may have been able to hold down a job while she continued to drink. Being a high-functioning alcoholic is much less likely for a person who is in the final stage of this type of addiction.
Dangers of Late Stage Alcoholism
Once a person reaches the end stage of alcoholism, she must stay continuously drunk to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. At this point, her tolerance for alcohol decreases due to liver and nervous system damage. Some alcoholics die due to severe cirrhosis of the liver during this stage.
Cirrhosis of the Liver
Cirrhosis of the liver is a medical condition where the liver cannot function properly due to the development of scar tissue. Once the scar tissue appears, it inhibits blood flow through the liver. The scar tissue also effects the liver's ability to:
- Clean toxins out of the blood
- Produce proteins to help with clotting
- Control infections
- Process medications and nutrients
- Produce bile to absorb cholesterol and certain (fat-soluble) vitamins
Treatment for cirrhosis of the liver can include making positive changes to the patient's eating habits, as well as refraining from alcohol use. A person who has been diagnosed with cirrhosis may also be advised to consult with his or her doctor before taking vitamins or medications. In cases where the damage to the liver is severe and measures used to control the condition are not effective, a liver transplant may be required.
Death, Injuries and Alcoholism
People in the final stage of alcoholism are at risk of accidental death or injury due to falls because being chronically drunk has a negative effect on the individual's balance and coordination. Falling can lead to esopheal bleeding, brain bleeding or abnormal bleeding from all organs including the kidneys, stomach and intestines. The death from a fall is often related to bleeding in the brain more than the fall itself.
An alcoholic who decides to go swimming is also at risk of drowning during this activity.
Since alcohol is a depressant, some people with addiction issues end up committing suicide. The combination of impaired judgment and the fact that the late-stage alcoholic will go into painful withdrawal symptoms if she does not continue to drink can be enough to push a person to make the tragic decision to end it all.
Don't Wait This Long to Seek Help
If you or someone you care about has a problem with alcohol use, consult a physician right away. Help is always available if the alcoholic is willing to accept it. don't wait for tragedy to strike.