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Conditions InDepth: Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

AUD is marked by alcohol-related issues that include misuse, abuse, and dependency. It includes:

  • Binge drinking—Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time
  • Alcohol abuse—Drinking even though it affects relationships, jobs, or family life
  • Alcohol dependence—Loss of control over drinking that leads to cravings, a tolerance for alcohol, and withdrawal when drinking is stopped


The exact cause is not known. Genetics may play a role. It may also involve changes in brain chemistry that affect how alcohol is processed by a person's body.


Alcohol use disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/alcohol-use-disorder. Accessed September 3, 2020.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/alcohol-withdrawal-syndrome. Accessed September 3, 2020.

Day E, Copello A, Hull M. Assessment and management of alcohol use disorders. BMJ. 2015 Feb 19;350:h715.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association; 2013.

Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD  Last Updated: 2/19/2021