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: Accessed September 3, 2020.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: 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

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