Do you drink regularly? If so, it may not be cause for concern. Millions of Americans imbibe on regular basis, the majority of whom will never develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD). But that does not mean that there aren’t inherent risks to regularly consuming alcohol, or that you will not develop a problem with the world’s most used mind-altering substance. What’s more, the majority of people with an alcohol use disorder may not even be aware that they have a problem.
If you are a regular drinker, and are unsure if there is a problem that needs to be addressed, it might be worth looking into. AUDs that are left untreated can cause a host of medical problems and increase the risk of premature death. One way to assess if you have a problem is to talk to your primary care physician. They can shed light on the subject. Doing so could lead to addiction treatment, and in turn greatly improve the quality of your life. If you have an inkling that your drinking is problematic, please do not hesitate.
Furthermore, it is never wise to gauge the severity of your drinking by comparing yourself to your peers. Their drinking is not relevant to your situation. Every one of us is different. Drinking may not affect your peers’ lives in the negative ways it affects your own. It is quite common for people to continue fueling the fire of an alcohol use disorder because they think they do not have a problem based on how their friends drink. It is worth remembering that perceptions are not fact.
The Criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder
When diagnosing any health disorder, certain criteria must be met. Whether it is diabetes or depression. One should see a specialist to identify a problem, which is always advised. But you can also utilize resources from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V). Currently, there are eleven symptoms of alcohol use disorder, which include:
- Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
- There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.
- Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
- Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
- Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
- Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
- Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
- Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: a) A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect b) A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
- Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol (refer to criteria A and B of the criteria set for alcohol withdrawal) b) Alcohol (or a closely related substance, such as a benzodiazepine) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
AUD Severity and Treatment
If you met two of the symptoms criteria, then you meet the criteria for AUD. Depending on how many of the eleven that you meet, will determine the severity of the disorder.
- Mild: The presence of 2 to 3 symptoms.
- Moderate: The presence of 4 to 5 symptoms.
- Severe: The presence of 6 or more symptoms.
So now what? If you meet the criteria for a mild AUD, it may possible to start the process of recovery in the rooms of 12-Step programs or SMART Recovery. For those who have over four symptoms, it is likely that more help assistance initially will be required. At Celebrate Hope, we can help you detox from alcohol and get you started on the road to recovery. Our trained professionals can give your tools and skills for avoiding relapse and achieving long-term recovery. Please contact us today, recovery is possible.