Alcohol use disorder
A few mild symptoms — which you might not see as trouble signs — can signal the start of a drinking problem. It helps to know the signs so you can make a change early. If heavy drinking continues, then over time, the number and severity of symptoms can grow and add up to “alcohol use disorder.” Doctors diagnose alcohol use disorder when a patient’s drinking causes distress or harm. See if you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself. And don’t worry — even if you have symptoms, you can take steps to reduce your risks.
Symptoms could be any of the following. In the past year, have you:
- Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer,than you intended?
- More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
- 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)?
- Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want?
- 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?
- Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
- Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking careof your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
- Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
- 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?
A. A problematic pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by at least two of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:
- Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
- There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.
- Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
- Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
- Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
- Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
- Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
- Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
- A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect.
- A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
- Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
- The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol (refer to Criteria A and B of the criteria set for alcohol withdrawal, pp. 499-500).
- Alcohol (or a closely related substance, such as a benzodiazepine) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.