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What is an Alcohol Use Disorder?

what-is-an-alcohol-use-disorderAn alcohol use disorder, or AUD, is characterized by pattern of alcohol abuse that leads to negative consequences such as illness. Part of a doctor’s diagnosis for an AUD is defined in part as having a constant craving for alcohol. Some of the symptoms associated with an alcohol use disorder include strong cravings, difficulty controlling how much is consumed, abandoning other priorities in order to drink, building a tolerance for the substance, and finally, experiencing physical withdrawal when usage is stopped or decreased.

The fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has laid out a thorough description of symptoms for medical professionals to diagnose an alcohol use disorder. Under DSM–5, anyone meeting any two of the 11 criteria during the same 12-month period would receive a diagnosis of AUD. The severity of an AUD—mild (2-3), moderate (4-5), or severe (6 or more)—is based on the number of criteria met.

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What are the Criteria for and Alcohol Use Disorder?

The above-mentioned criteria are as follows:

  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 lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
  4. Wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else?
  5. Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or 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?

Although only a licensed mental health professional is able to make a formal diagnosis, the newest updates to the DSM allow for the general population to identify if they should consider getting help with their alcohol use.

To learn more about how to get help for alcohol abuse and addiction, contact our admissions professionals at (855) 638-9268 today. We can help you find the rehab center that best fits your particular needs and design a customized treatment plan to ensure your success in recovery.