Diagnosis of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
It may not be easy for anyone to accept the fact they need help for an alcohol problem. Keep in mind that the sooner help is sought, the better the chances for a successful recovery.
You may have concerns about discussing drinking-related problems with your doctor. This may stem from common misconceptions about alcoholism and people who have alcoholism. In our society, some people may perceive alcohol problems as a sign of moral weakness. As a result, you may feel that to seek help is to admit some type of shameful defect in yourself. However, taking steps to identify a possible drinking problem has an enormous payoff: a chance for a healthier, more rewarding life.
A diagnosis of AUD is often based on an initial assessment, physical examination, and psychological evaluation.
Your doctor will ask you a number of questions about your alcohol use to determine whether you are having problems related to your drinking. Try to answer these questions as fully and honestly as you can. The doctor may ask about:
Physical Examination and Tests
A physical exam will look for any potential signs of AUD. This can include skin blemishes, tremors, involuntary eye movements, or abnormal muscle tone.
Tests may also be done to:
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Alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Helpguide website. Available at: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addictions/alcoholism-and-alcohol-abuse.htm. Updated April 2018. Accessed April 18, 2018.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
Shivani R, Goldsmith RJ, Anthenelli R. Alcoholism and psychiatric disorders: diagnostic challenges. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-2/90-98.htm. Accessed April 18, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 4/9/2015
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