Alcohol Use And Abuse: 10 Things You Should Know

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Things You Should Know About Alohol Use

Alcohol use disorder is a chronic brain disease that is characterized by the loss of control over drinking, compulsive drinking, and a negative emotional reaction when not drinking. To assess whether you have this disorder you must meet 2 of the criteria listed below:

1. You've Tried to Stop or Decrease Drinking More than Once

Stop Drinking

Even if you have quit, you continue to go back to drinking. You are unable to control your habit.

2. You Put Extra Time and Effort into Drinking

You spend time with others who drink or you spend a lot of your time drinking. You go to activities or events that offer alcohol.

Four businessmen friends drink beer and spend time together in a

3. You Continue to Drink Even Though You Know You Are at Risk for Health Issues

Health problems associated with drinking include stroke, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, and liver problems.

4. You Have Developed a Tolerance

You need to drink more to get the desired feeling from alcohol.

5. You Have Withdrawal Symptoms

These can be mental or physical. You need to drink to eliminate your withdrawal symptoms or to feel better when you have a hangover. You may also need to drink to prevent or relieve symptoms such as sweating, nausea, restlessness, depression, anxiety, irritability, shakiness, hallucination, or trouble with sleeping.

6. You Crave Alcohol

You want to drink more alcohol more often than you used to.

7. You Spend Less Time on Important Things

You have problems interacting with others at home, work, or at school.

8. You Drink Even When It Causes Issues

You may have issues with others such as your coworkers, friends, or family, but you continue to drink.

9. You Don't Do Things You Enjoy

You choose to drink instead of doing the things you used to enjoy.

10. You Put Yourself in Danger When Drinking

You exhibit dangerous behaviors and continue to drink anyway, such as engaging in unsafe sex, walking in dangerous places, using machinery, swimming, or driving.

Your drinking may be cause for concern if you have any of these symptoms. If you have at least two of them, this indicates you may have an alcohol use disorder. The more of these symptoms you have the more urgent it is to make a change in your life. Consult with a health professional for a formal assessment. Most people can benefit from treatment although less than 10% receive it. Below is a scale indicating the severity of the disorder:

  • Mild: 2 to 3 symptoms
  • Moderate: 1 to 5 symptoms
  • Severe: 6 or more symptoms

Causes of an Alcohol Use Disorder


Environmental, social, psychological, and genetic factors can affect how drinking alcohol affects your behavior and your body. There are theories that suggest that certain people have a stronger and different impact from it that can lead to an alcohol use disorder. Drinking large amounts of alcohol over time may change the normal functioning of the brain associated with the ability to control behavior, judgement, and experience pleasure. This may lead to cravings in an attempt to reduce negative feelings or restore good ones.

How Is an Alcohol Use Disorder Diagnosed?

Medical Diagnose

Consulting with a healthcare provider is the best way to diagnose an alcohol use disorder. They will inquire about your behavior over the past year. You will be diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe based on how many of the symptoms you exhibit.

How Is an Alcohol Use Disorder Treated?

You may be admitted to a hospital if you need assistance with withdrawal; this is the safest approach. You may also need one or more of the following to help you:

  • Admission to an inpatient facility if you are diagnosed with a severe dependence
  • Therapy with a psychologist or a psychiatrist
  • Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Medication to decrease alcohol cravings

What Constitutes One Drink?

Alcohol Being Poured In A Glass

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one drink is 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard alcohol (40% alcohol), 5 ounces of unfortified wine (12% alcohol), 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol), or 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol).

What are the Risks? 

Risk Of Drinking

Problematic drinking puts you at risk for damage to your liver, lungs, kidneys, heart, and brain. You have a greater risk of a stroke if you consume 5 drinks or more daily. Pregnant women risk serious health issues for themselves and their unborn child.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Man With Alcohol

This can occur when you have been heavily drinking for a long time and then stop or reduce your consumption. It may occur within hours or it can be 4 to 5 days afterwards. The signs and symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, and sometimes seizures. The symptoms of withdrawal can be so severe that they can impair your ability to function in social settings or at work.

Alcohol Intoxication

Alcohol Intoxication

This results from an increase in alcohol in your bloodstream. The higher it is, the more impaired you are and can cause mental and behavior changes. You may also exhibit poor coordination, impaired memory or poor coordination, slurred speech, impaired judgement, unstable moods, and inappropriate behavior.

The Difference between Aud and Alcoholism

What Is Alcoholism?

A person with severe dependence on alcohol is said to have alcoholism. Many use the term for those who drink too much. It is more than engaging in a heavy drinking weekend. People who suffer from alcoholism have many of the symptoms of AUD. If you drink more than you should, or despite the effects it has on you, then you may be an alcoholic. The term is often used by the Alcoholics Anonymous program; they believe you are the only one who can determine this.


What Is the Difference?

Alcohol use disorder is a medical term used by medical professionals who have performed an evaluation of a person and have diagnosed them. The term alcoholic is something used by laypersons and is an everyday term with no basis in medical evaluation.

How Can You Tell If You Have AUD or Alcoholism?

It is best to go to a medical professional if you suspect you have a drinking problem. Take a look at the list of symptoms to see if you have any of them and how many. It is best to seek assistance if you have a drinking problem, there are many programs that can help you.

Things You Need to Know about Alcohol Use Disorder

Over 15,000 treatment centers exist in just the U.S. with options for those who are seeking help. From intensive outpatient treatment to detox programs, you can find something that works well for you. Having a group of peers in the same situation as you are can be very helpful. There is no reason you have to figure the situation out alone.

Should You Call a Doctor?

If you find that your drinking is causing problems for you and those around you, consult with your doctor for advice. You can also speak to a mental health professional or go to support group meetings. Denial is a common trait among people who drink a lot; you may have convinced yourself you don't have a problem. Heed the advice of those around you who care about your well-being when they ask you to seek help. Speaking with someone who has successfully stopped drinking may also help you.

Call Doctor

Getting Help for Your Loved Ones

Sometimes those who need help will not seek it on their own, usually because they don't acknowledge that there is a problem. An intervention from those who care may be of help to some to get them to see that they have a problem and they need help. If you know someone you are concerned about, get assistance from an experienced alcohol treatment professional who can advise you how to approach them.

Help From Loved Ones


Alcohol use disorder is an issue caused by problematic drinking. It involves alcohol dependency and abuse, and is characterized by a pattern of drinking that involves having withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop, needing to drink more to get the desired effect, continuing to drink even if it is causing problems in your life, becoming preoccupied with drinking, and having problems controlling how much you consume.

Problematic drinking includes the use of alcohol that puts the safety of others, or yourself and your health at risk. It may include binge drinking, which in women is consuming at least 4 drinks in a two-hour period and for men 5 drinks or more in two hours. This behavior can cause significant safety and health problems.

If drinking is causing problems in your daily life or if you are experiencing significant distress, you most likely have an alcohol use disorder. It can be mild to severe, but even a mild disorder can increase and cause serious problems. Early treatment will help you deal with this issue.

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