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WHAT IS ALCOHOL USE DISORDER?

WHAT IS ALCOHOL USE DISORDER?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition in which the pattern of a person’s repeated drinking of alcohol causes distress or harm within a one-year period. Dangerous drinking habits can lead to Alcohol Use Disorder, which can lead to alcohol poisoning, overdose and possibly death.

“If your pattern of drinking results in repeated significant distress and problems functioning in your daily life, you likely have alcohol use disorder,” writes the Mayo Clinic on its website.

Drinking large amounts of alcohol can change how the brain normally functions, bringing about increased alcohol cravings and making it harder to use sound judgment, control behavior and experience pleasure without drinking alcohol. Problematic alcohol use includes but is not limited to:

  • Having problems with controlling alcohol consumption
  • Being preoccupied with drinking alcohol
  • Continued alcohol use despite the problems it brings
  • Increasing alcohol amounts to achieve same effects
  • Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms when intake is reduced or stopped
  • Risky drinking that can cause alcohol overdose

While drinking alcohol is socially accepted across many cultures, it often is easily forgotten that alcohol, which is legal, is still a drug that some people abuse.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ALCOHOL USE DISORDER

alcohol use disorder symptoms

While drinking too much alcohol is unhealthy, more symptoms must be present before an alcohol use disorder is diagnosed.

There are 11 criteria that define an alcohol use disorder as outlined in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). A person meeting any two of these 11 symptoms during a one-year period could received an AUD diagnosis.

If you or someone you know thinks problematic drinking has turned into an alcohol use disorder, review the list of questions below and assess your answers.

In the past year, have you:

1. Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?

2. More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn't?

3. Spent a great deal of time in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects?

4. Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick and getting over other aftereffects?

5. Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused work/school problems?

6. Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?

7. Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?

8. More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?

9. Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?

10. Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?

11. Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?

If two or more symptoms are present, then an AUD may be diagnosed. A medical professional will have to determine whether the condition is mild (when two to three symptoms are present), moderate (when four to five symptoms are present, or severe (when six or more symptoms are present).

HEALTH HAZARDS THAT MAY INDICATE PROBLEMATIC DRINKING HABITS OR ALCOHOL ABUSE

hazards of alcohol abuse

According to the Mayo Clinic, genetic, psychological, social and environmental factors can affect how drinking alcohol affects a person’s body and behavior. Alcohol’s effects differ by the drinker, and in some cases, those effects can lead to alcohol use disorder. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can change how the brain normally functions, bringing about increased cravings for alcohol and making it harder for a person to use sound judgment, control their behavior and experience pleasure without drinking alcohol.

Below is a partial list of health hazards that might indicate problematic drinking or constitute alcohol abuse:

  • Alcohol-related dementia
  • Cirrhosis of the liver— fibrotic changes in the liver
  • High blood pressure
  • Nutritional deficiencies—vitamin B12, folate, and thiamine
  • Alcoholic neuropathy—or degenerative changes in the nervous system affecting nerves responsible for sensation and movement
  • Alcoholic hepatitis, an acute syndrome reported by patients who have ingested about 100 grams of alcohol. Symptoms can include fever, jaundice, and enlarged liver
  • Acute and/or chronic pancreatitis—inflammatory disease of the pancreas
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome in the children of women who drink during pregnancy
  • Increased incidence of cancer, particularly cancer of the larynx, esophagus, liver, and colon
  • Erectile dysfunction
GET TREATMENT FOR ALCOHOL USE DISORDER NOW

alcohol addiction treatment

Abstinence is one method of addressing alcohol use disorders, but often, people find it hard to quit after their drinking problem has escalated into alcohol disorder use territory. Alcohol treatment may be the next step to learning how to live alcohol-free and learn how to manage an alcohol addiction.

Drug Treatment Center Finder recommends enrolling in a drug addiction treatment center, where you will be medically supervised by trained professionals. Call our 24-hour helpline at (855) 619-8070 to discuss your treatment options with one of our agents and get the substance abuse treatment that’s right for you.

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