Alcohol is a part of many cultures across the world and has been used as a way to celebrate, relax, or socialize for hundreds of years. Even though alcohol use is commonplace, it’s not always easy to tell if someone has a problem with alcohol. Not everyone stays at a bar all-day or struggles to keep their life together. Some people appear “high-functioning” but privately, they may face constant struggles with their alcohol use.
In reality, alcohol use disorder, commonly called alcoholism, is a medical condition that varies from person-to-person. This is why doctors and mental health professionals use a list of 11 criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (or DSM-5) to make a diagnosis. Learning more about the criteria might help you understand if you have a problem with alcohol.
It’s not always easy to determine if someone has an alcohol use disorder. Some people may seem perfectly healthy and functional in their daily lives but they keep their alcohol use a secret from loved ones. Common symptoms can include:
However, mild AUD can progress over time and become more difficult to manage. This is why it’s so important to engage in treatment as soon as possible.
It can be difficult to admit to potential problems with your own behavior but recognizing the signs early on is a crucial first step towards a successful, long-term recovery. No matter what your challenges are with alcohol, addiction treatment can help you regain control over alcohol and rebuild your confidence throughout the recovery journey.
Are you worried you or a loved one may need help to manage alcohol use? Find out more by taking this quiz about alcohol use.
Alcoholism, which is often referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic, relapsing brain disorder in which a person has a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol and experiences a pattern of excessive or uncontrollable alcohol use.
This means that it’s hard for a person to stop thinking about alcohol and change how much they consume, even if it has a harmful impact on their life. Even if they try to stop drinking, they may experience difficult or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol addiction can lead to serious health complications, such as:
Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, binge drinking refers to drinking a large amount of alcohol at one time. For men, it’s drinking five or more drinks within two hours. For women, it is four or more drinks within two hours. Drinking excessively from time to time does not mean someone has an alcoholism but it does put them at a higher risk for developing it over time.
There is no magic cure for alcoholism but it is treatable and manageable. With a treatment plan that meets a person’s specific needs, the brain and body can recover from the effects of alcohol while a person learns coping skills to control cravings and sustain long-term recovery.
Some common components of an alcohol addiction treatment plan include:
If you need help with your substance use disorder, we are here to help you build your confidence and momentum towards the future you want. We provide treatment services for adults with alcohol, opioid, and other substance use disorders. We are currently located in Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington.