Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition which is diagnosed when a person has difficulty stopping or controlling alcohol drinking despite negative social, occupational, or health consequences. It encompasses a spectrum of alcohol-related conditions like alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, and alcohol addiction.
Last Updated: February 21, 2024

Alcohol use disorder is thought to occur due to changes in the brain’s reward circuit after repeatedly drinking alcohol, as this produces a positive response in the brain; it is also thought to result from changes in the brain itself as it adapts to repeated alcohol drinking. There are various genetic, psychological, and environmental factors which can increase the risk for the disorder, such as: • alcohol use in childhood and adolescence • having first degree relatives with alcohol use disorder • parental alcohol use • history of traumatic events • having a personality disorder or other psychiatric conditions like depression and anxiety disorders

People with alcohol use disorder may not have any symptoms, or may even try to hide their alcohol-related symptoms. However, those that do have symptoms usually present with excessive alcohol drinking and: • problems with relationships with others • problems at work or frequently missing work • problems with personal care and hygiene • loss of control over drinking • craving for alcohol • needing more and more alcohol over time to get drunk • signs of alcohol withdrawal, like sleep problems and restlessness

Diagnosis of alcohol use disorder is based on a person’s drinking history and how it has affected him/her. It is best to manage these individuals using a combination of strategies including counseling, medication, and community support. A psychologist can also involve a person’s partner and family in therapy to help repair interpersonal relationships and help resolve the alcohol use disorder over the long term.

There should be adequate parental supervision to prevent underage alcohol abuse; even having meals frequently as a family may help decrease alcohol and substance abuse among adolescents. Mentoring adolescents may also help them avoid alcohol and other related substances. It is also necessary to screen individuals for alcohol misuse as part of routine medical check-ups to allow for earlier behavioral counseling. This is particularly important for adolescents and young adults who are usually most affected by the disorder.
Last Updated: February 21, 2024