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Understanding End-Stage Alcoholism

Alcohol use disorder is a progressive chronic condition that can result in life-threatening health conditions. Almost 88,000 deaths in the United States result from alcoholism, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the US. End-stage alcoholism or late-stage alcoholism is the final stage of this condition, and it can be a devastating stage for anyone experiencing it. 

What Is End-Stage Alcoholism?

The final stage of alcohol use disorder. By then, alcoholics are struggling with serious health and mental health issues. Many of them are even in danger of death. End-stage alcoholism is the term used to categorize individuals who have spent years breaking and developed a myriad of conditions resulting from their substance abuse. 

Recognizing the Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Unlike alcoholism itself, end-stage alcoholism presents itself in a combination of physical and mental health conditions. The most common symptoms include:

  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Liver damage and failure
  • Itchy skin
  • Fluid retention
  • Fatigue
  • Malnutrition
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Heart failure
  • Anemia
  • Alcohol dementia or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (also known as wet brain syndrome)

How End-Stage Alcoholism Affects Your Health

When someone reaches end-stage alcoholism, their bodies and mental health take the biggest hit. At this point, the severely damaged cause by their alcoholism is not reversible. It’s common for people to start finding themselves in emergency rooms or intensive care units to address some of these issues. Indeed, some people may even need a liver transplant or surgery to survive. 

Cirrhosis of the Liver

The most common effect of end-stage alcoholism is cirrhosis. This happens when the body can no longer metabolize alcohol and sends it back to the bloodstream. Eventually, this causes the liver to harden and forms scarring tissue. Almost one million people die from cirrhosis every year. 


Chronic and long-term binge drinking can result in malnutrition. Many struggling alcoholics will replace essential nutrients and foods for alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol’s effects interfere with the storage, absorption, and metabolisms of these essential nutrients, causing a complete disbalance. 

Chronic Pancreatitis

Roughly 70% to 80% of cases of chronic pancreatitis are due to chronic alcohol use. Unfortunately, many heavy drinkers go years and even decades without noticing chronic pancreatitis disease. It isn’t until they reach end-stage alcoholism that they experience symptoms, with many culminating in a sudden attack of pancreatitis. 

Brain Disorders

Research shows that long-term alcohol abuse can have lasting impacts on the brain. Although some areas may require recovery with abstinence, those with end-stage alcoholism often have difficulty reversing any damage. Alcohol causes various brain damage forms, but alcohol dementia or wet brain syndrome is the most common. 

Cardiovascular Health

By the time someone reaches the late stages of alcoholism, they’re likely to struggle with heart problems. Most people have high blood pressure, damage to their heart muscle, and angina. Also, they’re at higher risk of heart failure and stroke. 

All of these conditions don’t even scratch the surface of the damage alcohol causes to someone’s body. Chronic alcohol abuse also increases people’s risk of developing cancer, including mouth, liver, colon, and breast cancer. 

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Alcohol addiction is widespread, but those ready to break the addiction cycle can find hope in treatment. When people stop drinking alcohol, consuming cold-turkey can be challenging as most people will experience severe withdrawal symptoms. 

It’s paramount to speak with an addiction treatment specialist to determine the best way to start seeking help for alcohol addiction. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our alcohol addiction recovery programs include:

Alcohol Detox

Medically monitored detox is crucial to early addiction recovery. Often this stage is required during the withdrawal phase of dependency. When an individual ceases using drugs or alcohol abruptly, they will inevitably experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox clinics keep patients physically safe, prescribing any medication necessary to avoid potentially life-threatening symptoms. 

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient drug rehab is where the treatment process begins. Patients will undergo a rigorous, therapeutically-centered schedule to uncover and address the underlying causes of substance dependency while treating any co-occurring mental health problems. 

The goal of inpatient treatment is to get all of the intricate therapeutic work completed in a safe and secure environment while introducing clients to the program of recovery. Additionally, to instill all of the tools and coping mechanisms necessary to maintain sobriety.

Outpatient Treatment

An outpatient program is the next step during early addiction recovery. It usually entails an extended stay at a halfway house or sober living facility. Additionally, the duration ranges from 30 days to 9 months. Those who spend more extended periods halfway have more success in maintaining long-term sobriety. 

Group Therapy

As part of an alcohol addiction treatment program, patients often find group therapy helpful. So our team integrates Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) meetings and other group therapy settings to assist in the recovery phase. 

Continual aftercare is the portion of the process that requires regular and frequent upkeep. For most recovering addicts and alcoholics, aftercare is a highly personalized and unique experience. The trick is finding what works for you and sticking to it. 

Aftercare Programs 

For many individuals, continual aftercare comes from a 12-step program of recovery and support groups. The amount of dedication a program of recovery requires will vary from individual to individual. Take time to develop yours, and try to remember to trust in the process.

Help for Friends and Family Members

Alcoholism is a horrible disease that affects not only the addict but the entire family. If you have a loved one struggling with alcohol abuse, please find professional help today. Speaking with an experienced addiction therapist can help you stage an intervention and start looking into the many ways you can support your loved one in recovery. Assisting family therapy sessions and Al-anon group meetings are paramount for your mental health and overall well-being. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our caring staff will support you and your family every step of the way. 

Most people need to seek help from treatment facilities to find the right treatment. Treating alcohol withdrawal and abuse problems will depend on the severity of their addiction; a specialist might recommend either an inpatient or outpatient setting.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a drinking problem, don’t wait any longer. Countless treatment options can help them conquer their addiction and manage any withdrawal symptoms. Remember, quitting potent drugs alone can be life-threatening. It’s essential to have the support and supervision of drug addiction specialists by your side. 

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we believe in offering customized alcohol abuse treatment plans for those struggling with drug abuse. On a case-by-case basis, we look at each program to cater to your needs and get better and walk towards recovery. From detoxification programs to group meetings and more, everyone in our team is committed to helping you win the struggle with addiction.

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