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

Chronic alcoholism, is essentially the fourth stage of alcoholism and is typified by the worst and the most life threatening consequences of this disease.

While it is necessary for the alcoholic to get professional treatment during any of the alcoholism stages, it is especially important for the person who is suffering from chronic alcoholism to get immediate medical treatment.

The Fourth Stage of Alcoholism

If the alcoholic lives long enough, and hasn’t stopped his or her hazardous and abusive drinking, he or she will more likely than not reach the fourth stage of alcoholism.

Also known as chronic alcoholism, the fourth stage of alcoholism is typified by a total loss of control regarding the alcoholic’s drinking.

For instance, in the earlier stages of the disease, the person may have been successful in maintaining employment.

In the fourth stage of alcoholism, however, since drinking usually starts earlier in the day and often continues throughout the day, very few alcoholics can maintain full-time employment given their out-of-control drinking pattern.
Moreover, 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 the chronic stage of alcoholism, the alcoholic typically exhibits a distain for almost everything, even “essentials” such as food, water, shelter, employment, and family interaction.

Benders: Flights Into Oblivion

Moreover, in the chronic stage of alcoholism, benders are typical.

That is, during this chronic, severe stage of alcoholism, the alcoholic gets helplessly drunk and may remain in this condition for a number of days.

Interestingly, the goal for the alcoholic while involved in his or her bender is to experience the “high” or the “buzz” they once felt.

Unfortunately, this goal is unattainable. Ironically, these occasional “flights into oblivion” are perhaps best described as drinking to get away from the problems caused by drinking.

In the fourth and final stage of severe 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.

During this severe alcoholism 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 usually means any hour of the day or the night.

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

When the person reaches the stage of chronic alcoholism, however, he or she gets “the shakes” whenever the alcoholic attempts or is forced to quit drinking.

The shakes are symptomatic of a serious nervous disorder that when experienced, affects the entire body.
When “the shakes” are combined with hallucinations, additionally, the result is known as “the DTs” or delirium tremens.
The DTs can be a lethal type of alcohol withdrawal that will result in death unless the alcoholic receives immediate medical treatment.

After an attack of the DTs, many alcoholics promise to never drink again. Unfortunately, however, most alcoholics cannot fulfill their promise.

As a consequence, they ultimately return to drinking and the chronic alcoholic behaviors start all over again.
Classic Alcoholic Behavior

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

  • An obsession with drinking
  • Continual loss of control
  • Nameless fears and anxieties such as feelings of impending doom or destruction
  • Moral deterioration
  • The collapse of the alibi system
  • Unreasonable resentments and hostility toward others
  • Devaluation of personal relationships
  • The “DTs”
  • Loss of tolerance for alcohol
  • Vague spiritual desires
  • “The shakes”
  • Impaired thinking
  • The possibility of alcoholic psychosis
  • The realization of being out of control
  • Persistent remorse
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations
  • Indefinable fears
  • Benders, or lengthy intoxications

The Consequences of Chronic Alcoholism

The consequences of severe, chronic alcoholism are not only serious, but in many cases, fatal.

Indeed, chronic alcoholism can directly or indirectly cause certain types of cancer, such as cancer of the throat, kidneys, larynx, liver, esophagus, and the rectum.

Furthermore, chronic alcoholism frequently results in problems with the immune system, cirrhosis of the liver, and brain damage.

In short, the following represent the consequences of chronic alcoholism: failed health, illnesses, destroyed lives, and death.


From the information outlined above, it can be concluded that long-term, severe alcoholism, or chronic alcoholism is a sad and pathetic way to experience life.

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

It is hoped, however, that exposing the facts about alcohol dependency and about the stages of alcoholism to our youth BEFORE they start abusing alcohol will prevent many of them from experiencing the devastating and the deadly realities of chronic alcoholism.

In any event, if you are interested in talking with a counselor at a drug and alcohol rehab facility, please make an appointment with your local drug and alcohol rehab center.