Middle Stage: By the time someone has entered the middle stages of alcoholism, his or her life has become quite unmanageable, although the alcoholic still denies that he or she has a problem. At this point, the alcoholic will often drink more than intended. He or she will drink in an attempt to erase feelings such as anger, depression and social discomfort. Drinking in the morning to relieve a bad hangover may also take place. The alcoholic’s health care provider may begin to suggest that the alcoholic stop drinking. The individual may try to stop drinking, but without success. Job loss, medical problems, and serious family conflicts occur during this phase.
Late Stage: At this stage, the alcoholic’s life has become completely unmanageable. Medical complications are numerous and include liver diseases such as cirrhosis or hepatitis. Acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), high blood pressure, and bleeding of the esophageal lining can result from prolonged use. The heart and brain are compromised so that an alcoholic is at a higher risk for a heart attack or stroke. Depression and insomnia and even suicide are more prevalent at this stage.
A condition known as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, which involves memory loss, indicates that the individual has sustained brain damage from drinking. A child born to a woman who drinks during her pregnancy may have a condition called fetal alcohol syndrome, causing a number of birth defects.
An alcoholic at this stage has become physically addicted to alcohol and will experience seizures or delirium tremens (DTs) if he or she stops drinking. It is extremely important to seek out medical care at this point in the disease process.
If an individual is dependent on alcohol, he or she should be supervised medically during a detoxification process. Further treatment may include individual or group counseling.
Mental health professionals have been trained to treat substance abuse problems. You can seek out treatment with an individual counselor or by entering an inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment program.
Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Smart Recovery, and Rational Recovery have helped many alcoholics to stay sober, allowing them to live productive lives.
Some Contact Numbers:
Alcoholics Anonymous: AA World Services, Inc., Box 459, New York, NY 10163, (212) 870-3400, www.aa.org.
Rational Recovery Systems, Inc., www.rational.org
Smart Recovery, 24000 Mercantile Road, Suite 11, Beachwood, OH 44122, (216) 292-0220, www.smartrecovery.org