Advanced Alcoholism: Effects and Treatment

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : November 10, 
| 4 Sources

Treating Advanced Alcoholism
Due to the unique challenges presented by chronic alcoholism, correct diagnosis is essential for any treatment program to be effective

Advanced alcoholism has adverse consequences. Patients suffering from end-stage alcoholism experience a multitude of physical, mental and emotional disorders.

End-stage alcoholism is the last stage of an alcohol use disorder (AUD), leading to severe mental and physical conditions and other health consequences from prolonged alcohol misuse.

While most individuals may have difficulty identifying the danger signs of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, the effects of this final stage alcoholism are quite obvious and cannot be easily dismissed or ignored.

Chronic alcoholism takes a serious toll on the life of the patient and this triggers severe health problems and serious complications in one’s life.

The Johns Hopkins Test For Alcoholism is an effective tool for self-diagnosing at what stage of alcoholism you are.

The end-stage of alcoholism is characterized by the uncontrollable need to consume alcohol for the desired euphoric effect. The failure of the patient to keep his or her alcohol consumption in check and to accept the consequences that drink is having on him/her, will further exacerbate the situation.

An advanced alcoholic will lose his sense of priority and will manifest suicidal impulses and self-destructive tendencies.


Typical Effects of Advanced Alcoholism

The long-term consumption of alcohol can cause severe and irreversible damage to the brain, heart, liver and other major organs.

Some of the conditions associated with chronic alcoholism are:

End-stage alcoholism is normally associated with severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and serious illnesses. Withdrawal occurs when going without alcohol results in physical body reactions like nausea, shaking, and in more adverse cases, tremors and seizures.

Advanced alcoholism can result in permanent brain damage. Brain cells are irreversibly destroyed by long-term alcohol consumption and abuse. They do not regenerate and brain tissues actually deteriorate in the late stages of alcoholism.

Even if a patient achieves sobriety in the end-stage of alcoholism, the mental and physical state of the patient will have been irretrievably compromised and the condition is already difficult to treat.

However, you must remember that it is never too late to seek treatment and get on the path to recovery, regardless of the stage of alcoholism an individual is at. Persons who are suffering from advanced alcoholism can still hope for successful recovery despite the damage caused by their alcohol dependence.

Treatment of Advanced Alcoholism

The main concern about proper treatment of chronic alcoholism is probably the potential misdiagnosis or under-diagnosis of the medical condition. Such incidents can result in treatment failure and relapse and worsening of the overall condition of the patient.

People who engage in chronic consumption of alcohol and experience extensive damage (mentally, physically and emotionally) will not have any chance of recovery without the appropriate and accurate diagnosis. These failures in the treatment process for advanced stage of alcoholism are largely responsible for the significant number of treatment failures and relapses.


Most of the treatment options for alcohol abuse and dependence are anchored on the behavioral aspects of the condition. What is most apparent is the fact that these treatment protocols are not strong when applied in specific cases of alcohol dependence requiring longer time of recovery. As pointed out above, the physical damage wreaked by long term alcohol consumption requires extensive, long term therpy and in some cases cannot be reversed

So, the main challenge of end-stage alcoholism is the time required for complete recovery in the face of extensive damage caused by chronic alcohol abuse and dependence.


Someone suffering from advanced alcoholism has typically been drinking for at least 20 years. This means that a large part of this individual's life has been preoccupied with the procurement and consumption of alcohol. It has, in short, been their number one activity. Alcohol is their lover and best friend.

A four-week stint in a treatment center followed by attendance at a support group is unlikely to break the habits (psychological and physiological) of a lifetime.

For an in-depth look at the different stages of alcoholism read our page on alcoholism stages.

Advanced alcoholism requires a specific type of treatment approach which is different from the other types of alcoholism. While major developments have consistently improved the treatment protocols for alcoholism, the apparent failure to take into account the specific stage of the alcohol dependence is the main reason why we see a lot of treatment failures and relapses.

If you, or someone you care about, is suffering from what you think is late stage alcoholism then it is essential that the treatment center/physician/specialist is informed of this.  Reach out to a reliable and dedicated treatment provider sooner rather than later. Then appropriate action can be taken to ensure that the best course of treatment can be provided.

For more help and advice on quitting drinking then take a look at the following pages:

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


Very Well Mind. What Is End-Stage Alcoholism?. May 16, 2020.

Healthline. Stages of Alcoholism. August 4, 2017.

WebMD. The Stages of Alcoholism, and How To Know When You Have a Problem.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Introduction.

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