Chronic Alcoholism


Alcoholism has four stages. Each stage is characterized by more severe physical, psychological, health, and social manifestations than the previous stage.

Chronic alcoholism (also known as severe alcoholism) is essentially the fourth stage of alcoholism and is typified by the worst and the most life threatening consequences of this disease.

The Fourth and Final Stage of Alcoholism

If the alcoholic lives long enough, eventually he or she will reach the fourth stage of alcoholism.

Also known as chronic alcoholism, "long-term alcoholism," or severe alcoholism, the fourth stage of alcoholism is characterized by a chronic loss of control.

For example, in the earlier stages of the disease, the individual may have been successful in maintaining employment.


In the fourth stage of alcoholism, conversely, due to the fact that drinking usually starts earlier in the day and often continues throughout the day, very few, if any alcoholics can sustain full-time employment given their out-of-control drinking behavior.

Furthermore, in the last stage of alcoholism, unlike the three earlier stages, alcoholics no longer have a choice: they must drink in order to function.

Also during this stage, the alcoholic frequently displays a distain for almost everything, even "essentials" such as family interaction, employment, shelter, food, and water.

Benders: Flights Into Oblivion

Benders are also typical in chronic or severe alcoholism. More to the point, during the fourth or chronic stage of alcoholism, the alcoholic gets helplessly drunk and may remain in this condition for a number of days. Ironically, the goal for the alcoholic while involved in his or her bender is to experience the "buzz" or the "euphoria" they once felt.

Regrettably, this goal is unattainable. Interestingly, these occasional "flights into oblivion" are perhaps best characterized as drinking to get away from the problems caused by drinking.

In the fourth and final stage of alcoholism, having an easily accessible supply of alcohol close at hand (to avoid "the shakes") becomes the most important thing in the life of the alcoholic.

What is more, during this stage, the alcoholic will do almost anything to obtain the alcohol he or she needs.

Once the alcohol is secured, alcoholics will typically hide their bottles so that they can get a drink whenever they need it, which commonly means any hour of the day or the night.

In the second or third stages of alcoholism the person's hands may have trembled slightly whenever the alcoholic awoke.

When individuals reach the stage of chronic alcoholism, however, they get "the shakes" whenever they attempt or are forced to quit drinking. The shakes are symptomatic of a critical nervous disorder that when experienced, affects the entire body.

When "the shakes" are combined with hallucinations, moreover, the outcome is known as "the DTs" or delirium tremens. The DTs can be a deadly kind of alcohol withdrawal that will become fatal unless the alcoholic receives prompt medical assistance.

After an attack of the DTs, many alcoholics promise to never drink again. Regrettably, nevertheless, most alcoholics cannot fulfill their promise. As a result, they ultimately return to drinking and the alcoholic cycle of negative and addictive behavior starts all over again.

Typical Alcoholic Behaviors in the 4th Stage of Alcoholism

The following represents some of the classic alcoholic behaviors in the chronic alcoholism stage:

  • Auditory and visual hallucinations

  • Vague spiritual desires

  • Unreasonable resentments and hostility toward others

  • Nameless fears and anxieties such as feelings of impending doom or destruction

  • Moral deterioration

  • The possibility of alcoholic psychosis

  • Persistent remorse

  • Benders, or lengthy intoxications

  • Impaired thinking

  • Loss of tolerance for alcohol

  • "The shakes"

  • The realization of being out of control

  • The "DTs"

  • The collapse of the alibi system

  • An obsession with drinking

  • Indefinable fears

  • Devaluation of personal relationships

  • Continual loss of control

The Results of Chronic Alcoholism

The results of chronic, long-term alcoholism are not only serious, but in many cases, deadly. In fact, chronic alcoholism can directly or indirectly cause certain types of cancer, such as cancer of the esophagus, throat, rectum, liver, larynx, and the kidneys.

Finally, chronic, long-term alcoholism often leads to brain damage, cirrhosis of the liver, and problems with the immune system.

In a word, the following represent the consequences of chronic alcoholism: destroyed lives, illness, failed health, and premature death.

Conclusion: Chronic Alcoholism

Chronic and Severe Alcoholism. From the information presented above, it can be determined that long-term, chronic alcoholism is an unfortunate and painful way to experience life.


Regrettably, learning about the destructive results and the debilitating nature of alcoholism may not make a much of an impact on most of those who are already chronically alcohol dependent.

It is hoped, therefore, that by exposing the "realities" about alcoholism, including the behaviors that are typical in the stages of alcoholism, to youth before they start drinking in an irresponsible, excessive, and abusive manner, that many adolescents will avoid the painful and damaging consequences that are so often related to chronic alcoholism.