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Alcoholism: Definition, Symptoms, Traits, Causes, Treatment

Talk to your doctor to see of one of those might be right for you. Alcoholism is a common and different term for alcohol use disorder. Milder cases — when people abuse alcohol but aren’t dependent on it — are as well. Learn more about the financial impact of alcohol misuse in the United States. Explore how many people ages 18 to 25 engage in alcohol misuse in the United States and the impact it has.

Resources for Health Professionals

We use only trustworthy sources, including peer-reviewed studies, board-certified medical experts, patients with lived experience, and information from top institutions. Adolescents are also likely to binge drink, which can lead to serious consequences, including injury and death. As mentioned above, the DSM-5 says an AUD diagnosis requires at least 2 of the 11 symptoms of alcoholism listed above to have occurred within the previous 12 months.

What are the Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?

But there’s a large gray area in the middle, in which drinking can cause problems for someone’s health, job, or loved ones, but not to a clinical extent. An example would be a father who falls asleep on the couch after having several drinks three or four days a week, missing out on time with his kids and wife. Another would be a college student who repeatedly has trouble making it to class because she was drunk the night before. These individuals, sometimes called “almost alcoholics,” may not see the connection at first but would often benefit from help and support. Alcohol use disorder (sometimes called is a medical condition. It involves heavy or frequent alcohol drinking even when it causes problems, emotional distress or physical harm.

  • In addition to getting professional treatment and support, there are things that you can do to help feel better and improve your chances of recovery.
  • In addition to ongoing mental health support, enhancing an individual’s “recovery resources” is also important.
  • Social norms, such as drinking during a happy hour or on a college campus, and positive experiences with alcohol in the past (as opposed to getting nauseous or flushed) play a role as well.
  • Substance use frequently co-occurs with mental illness, but some research suggests that psychiatrists only treat addiction for around half of the patients who have both mental illness and substance use problems.
  • However, if someone who enjoys moderate drinking increases their consumption or regularly consumes more than the recommended quantity, AUD may eventually develop.
  • The classification is done in accordance with the carbon atom of an alkyl group is attached to the hydroxyl group.

Uses of Alcohols

  • This definition is inadequate, however, because alcoholics, unlike other drug addicts, do not always need ever-increasing doses of alcohol.
  • Trying to tough it out on your own can be like trying to cure appendicitis with cheerful thoughts.
  • About 15 million American adults and 400,000 adolescents suffer from alcohol use disorder, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
  • Using one or more of several types of psychological therapies, psychologists can help people address psychological issues involved in their problem drinking.
  • In more severe cases, people may also have seizures or hallucinations.
  • The idea that altered forms of consciousness such as mania or alcohol can enhance creativity is a popular belief.

There are several treatment options available for AUD, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. For more information about alcohol’s effects on the body, please visit the Interactive Body feature on NIAAA’s College Drinking Prevention website. Individuals are advised to talk to their doctors about the best form of primary treatment. Ultimately, Top 5 Advantages of Staying in a Sober Living House there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and what may work for one person may not be a good fit for someone else. Simply understanding the different options can be an important first step. Health, safety and socioeconomic problems attributable to alcohol can be reduced when governments formulate and implement appropriate policies.

Theories suggest that for certain people drinking has a different and stronger impact that can lead to alcohol use disorder. Using one or more of several types of psychological therapies, psychologists can help people address psychological issues involved in their problem drinking. A number of these therapies, including cognitive-behavioral coping skills treatment and motivational enhancement therapy, were developed by psychologists.


They may have powerful mood swings that seem to change their personality. Relationships may deteriorate, as their social circle narrows to other drug or alcohol users. Their work may decline as well, and they may lose a spiritual or religious practice they once valued.