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Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a form of alcohol use disorder. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA),“Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using”,(NIMH, nd).Per the DSM5, AUD is defined “by a cluster of behavioral and physical symptoms, which can include withdrawal, tolerance, and craving" (APA, 2013).

What signs could indicate an alcohol use disorder?

The essential component to determine if a person has an alcohol use disorder is whether or not the person can control their drinking. Control of their drinking includes the frequency or times when they drink, the amount they drink, whether they have tried to stop drinking and could not. People who have an AUD will continue to drink despite the negative effects it has on their capacity to perform at home, work and school, their overall health, and their interpersonal/ professional relationships, (APA, 2013).

Why do people develop alcohol use disorders?

Research has shown that genetics has a major influence in the risk of the development of AUD. Thus, alcohol use disorders oftentimes are more predominate in some families. Other factors that contribute to the risk of the development of AUD are personality, psychological factors, and environmental factors (APA 2013).

What treatment options are available?

AUD is a condition that requires lifelong management. The first step to treatment and recovery is to seek help from a mental health care provider. Our providers are compassionate and utilize a holistic treatment approach and they can help you overcome your addiction and reclaim your life. There are different treatment options available to treat AUD including medications and group therapy. After a comprehensive evaluation of your symptoms, our providers will individualize your treatment plan based on your personal situation (NIMH, n.d.).


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders

(5th ed.). Washington: American Psychiatric Association.

National Institute of Mental Health. National institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, (nd).

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