AUD can affect people of all ages including adolescents. Symptoms are different for everyone, though common threads exist. These include:
Increase in amount of alcohol that is being consumed to try to reach same effects Inability to stop or limit drinking despite associated problems Significant amount of time doing activities to obtain or use alcohol Craving or urge to use alcohol Repeated home, school, or work problems Difficulty in relationships with family members, friends, and coworkers Missing previously favored activities in order to drink alcohol or recover from alcohol Alcohol use even if it creates physically unsafe situations or leads to legal trouble Alcohol use that continues even when it causes or worsens health problems
Dependence may also cause physical symptoms (withdrawal) when alcohol is stopped. Withdrawal may cause:
Shaking Rapid pulse Sweating Nausea or vomiting Lack of appetite Anxiety
Seizures that may result from
Complications Associated with AUD
Complications of AUD cover a wide range of personal, family, social, and health problems such as:
Accidents and injury—including motor vehicle accidents and falls Violence, murder, and suicide Domestic violence Family problems Failed relationships Lost jobs Problems with the law, including drunk driving arrests and jail time
Some common physical problems associated with AUD include:
Red palms, flushed face Spidery veins showing through the skin around the umbilicus and on the face Rapid heart rate
Yellowing of the whites of the eyes and/or skin—
jaundice, which indicates liver problems
Enlarged liver and/or spleen
ulcers Pancreatitis Easy bruising and/or bleeding Peripheral neuropathy
or nerve damage, which can cause muscle weakness, numbness, or tingling
Impaired memory and cognitive function Infertility in both men and women Sexual dysfunction Increased susceptibility to infections and cancer
Organs That Can Be Damaged by Alcoholism
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Medical complications include:
cancers, especially of the
esophagus, mouth, throat,
Liver damage, which can occur with hepatitis
Gastrointestinal problems such as bleeding,
ulcers, and inflammation of the esophagus
Heart and circulatory problems, including
Mental health problems, including
depression High blood pressure, which can lead to a
hemorrhagic stroke Obesity Diabetes Pneumonia
acute respiratory distress syndrome
Osteoporosis Neurological problems and brain damage (with long-term use) Postoperative complications, including infections, bleeding, and delayed healing Fetal alcohol syndrome
in the babies of women who drank during pregnancy
Alcohol use disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115540/Alcohol-use-disorder. Updated April 17, 2018. Accessed April 18, 2018.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114807/Alcohol-withdrawal-syndrome. Updated January 17, 2017. Accessed April 18, 2018.
Alcohol's effects on the body. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body. Accessed April 18, 2018.
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.
3/5/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115540/Alcohol-use-disorder: Tramacere I, Scotti L, et al. Alcohol drinking and pancreatic cancer risk: A meta-analysis of the dose-risk relation. Int J Cancer. 2010;126(6):1474-1486.
Last reviewed March 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 4/9/2015