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Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a spectrum of unhealthy drinking behaviors. These include risky drinking, alcohol abuse, and alcohol dependence.
The exact cause is not known. It is thought to be a combination of genetics and the environment.
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Some people may not have symptoms or may try to hide them from others. People who do have symptoms may have:
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked about your alcohol use and the impact it may be having your life. A family member may also be asked these questions. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
There are no tests to diagnose AUD. More tests may be needed if there are signs of damage from AUD.
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There is no cure for AUD. The goal of treatment is to manage the disorder. This can be done with a combination of counseling, medicine, and social support. Some people may need to be treated in a detoxification center.
It can take a long time to recover. Many people need to be treated several times.
The risk of AUD is higher in people who used alcohol when they were children and teens. It may be possible to lower the risk. This may be done by increasing family meals. Mentoring teens may also lower the risk.
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse
Mental Health Canada
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, et al. 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 Shawna Grubb, RN Last Updated: 9/10/2020