Alcohol addiction



The 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) defines alcoholism (alcohol use disorder – AUD) as “a problematic pattern of alcohol consumption, characterized by compulsive use of alcohol, impaired control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.”

This means people with the disorder have difficulty controlling the amount they drink and an inability to stop even when they experience negative consequences such as missed days of work to an arrest for drinking and driving. People who are considered “high-functioning” while drinking may never experience obvious negative consequences, however, their use is still compulsive, and they can’t stop drinking on their own.

Not all people with an alcohol use disorder experience the same consequences, nor does everyone drink the same. It is a matter of what happens when you are drinking or not drinking instead of how you drink. It is also not dependent on what you drink, whether it’s beer, hard liquor, or wine.

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One standard drink as defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is 12 ounces of beer, 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. There are two forms of compulsive drinking that may qualify as alcohol abuse:

  • Binge

Binge drinking means drinking a lot in a short period. It’s not something you have to do every day or even every month. For men, binge drinking is five or more alcoholic drinks in two hours or less. For women, it’s four or more drinks in two hours.

  • Chronic

Chronic drinking refers to those who drink as part of their daily life. If it is normal to go home and drink a six-pack daily, — that shows a pattern of unhealthy alcoholic consumption, especially if you start to feel sick if you don’t drink.

Signs of Alcoholism (Alcohol Addiction)

The DSM-V uses criteria to help diagnose alcoholism. These criteria may help you or your loved one determine whether there’s a need to seek help for alcohol use disorder. Typically, two or more of the following symptoms over the last twelve months indicate an individual is experiencing a problem with alcohol.

  • Drinking more or over a longer period than you intended.
  • You’ve had unsuccessful efforts to cut down on or stop drinking despite a desire to change your alcohol use.
  • A lot of your time is spent getting and drinking alcohol and recovering from drinking.
  • Using alcohol becomes a compulsion with a strong desire to use alcohol.
  • Your drinking impacts obligations such as school, work, and family.
  • You continue to drink despite social and interpersonal problems, which are often made worse while drinking.
  • You’ve given up or reduced time for work, hobbies, family, and other pleasurable activities because of drinking.
  • While drinking, you engage in risky and dangerous behavior, such as drinking and driving.
  • Continued alcohol use despite physical or psychological problems that can be attributed to drinking.
  • Increased alcohol tolerance, meaning you drink more to achieve the desired effect and/or using the same amount of alcohol you once did, does not produce the effect sought.
  • Withdrawal symptoms appear when not drinking; these may include sweats, tremors, seizures, alcohol shakes, or increased heart rate.

Are you or a loved one struggling with alcoholism? We are here to help. Call (844) 978-1524