The doctor will ask about a person's symptoms and health history. The person will also be asked about their alcohol use and the impact it may be having on their life.
AUD is diagnosed when a person has 2 or more of the following problems in the past year:
- Drinking more or longer than intended
- Wanting to cut down or stop drinking but not being able to do so
- Spending a lot of time drinking, being sick, or recovering from drinking
- Wanting a drink so badly that it gets in the way of all other thoughts
- Drinking habits that cause problems with a person's home, family, job, or school
- Drinking despite the problems that it causes with family and friends
- Giving up or cutting back on activities to spend more time drinking
- Using alcohol in dangerous situations, such as when swimming
- Drinking despite knowing the physical and mental health problems it is worsening
- Needing to drink more to get the same effect
- Having withdrawal symptoms when alcohol wears off, such as problems sleeping, shakiness, and nausea
A physical exam will be done to look for signs of damage from AUD. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. There are no tests to diagnose AUD.
Alcoholism. Lab Tests Online—American Association for Clinical Chemistry website. Available at: https://labtestsonline.org/conditions/alcoholism. Accessed September 3, 2020.
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