You will be asked about your symptoms and past health. 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.
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.
People who quit alcohol can have withdrawal symptoms. This is a set of physical and mental symptoms that can worsen 2 to 3 days after stopping. They tend to be more severe in those who have been drinking heavily. Severe withdrawal may need medical help. A detox center can help people safely withdraw from alcohol. They can also provide support for symptoms.
It can take a long time to recover. Many people need to be treated several times. Treatment may include:
Therapy to improve coping skills and teach healthier ways to deal with problems
Group therapy from organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to get support from others recovering from AUD
Medicines to decrease the desire to drink alcohol
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.
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 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Shawna Grubb, RN
Last Updated: 3/19/2021
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