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What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

alcoholic drink - what is alcohol use disorder?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is characterized by uncontrolled drinking, preoccupation with alcohol, and continuing use despite harmful consequences. Some refer to AUD as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction, or alcoholism.

For most adults, moderate alcohol use is likely not harmful. Moderate use means no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman and no more than two if you’re a man. However, alcohol consumption can become a drinking problem when an individual shows signs of dependence. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 14.5 million Americans have AUD.

Alcohol Use Disorder Symptoms

Alcohol use disorder can range from mild to severe, depending on the number of symptoms experienced. However, even a mild disorder can escalate and lead to serious problems, so early treatment is important.

Signs and symptoms of AUD include:

  • Isolating to drink alone.

  • Missing obligations to drink.

  • Attitude changes (ie., violent behavior while intoxicated).

  • Risky behaviors (ie., drinking and driving, promiscuity).

  • Legal issues (ie., DUI, domestic violence).

  • Concerned loved ones, estrangement of family members caused by substance use.

  • Black outs.

  • Binge drinking.

  • Alcohol poisoning, hospitalization attributed to alcohol consumption.

  • Minimization of use and denial

  • Frequent hangovers.

More studies show alcohol addiction is not a simple choice, there is a physical change in brain chemistry after months or years of alcohol consumption, so an individual can’t just stop in one day. In fact, in the case of some addictions, individuals shouldn’t stop cold-turkey because detox can be fatal.

When To Seek Treatment

Not everyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic. So how do you know when you need help?

Oftentimes the simplest way to define alcohol addiction is when the four C’s of addiction are present: compulsion, craving, consequences and control.

There are also criteria for an alcohol use disorder published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that are used by healthcare professionals to diagnose AUD.

If a person believes they are experiencing signs of alcohol use disorder, they should seek advice from a healthcare professional as soon as possible. There are many forms of substance abuse treatment catered to helping individuals struggling with alcohol related problems.

If you’re not sure if your alcohol use is a problem, why don’t we complete a confidential evaluation? Feel free to contact us at: 630-402-0144

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