Alcohol Use Disorder


What is alcohol use disorder? Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is problem drinking. AUD includes alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency.

What are the symptoms of AUD?

  • You have tried to decrease or stop drinking more than once. You are not able to control your drinking habits. You keep going back to drinking even after you quit.

  • You put extra effort and time into drinking alcohol. You may often go to events or activities that will include drinking. You may also spend much of your time drinking alcohol or being with people who also drink. You may also spend a lot of time recovering from the effects of drinking.

  • You keep drinking alcohol even if you know it increases your risk for health problems. Health problems include liver problems, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, and stroke.

  • You develop alcohol tolerance. Tolerance means the amount of alcohol you usually drink no longer causes the effects you may desire. You may need to drink even more alcohol to get the same effects.

  • You have withdrawal (physical or mental) symptoms after not drinking for a short period. The same amount of alcohol may be needed to relieve or prevent withdrawal symptoms such as tremors (shakes). You may also have to drink to stop withdrawal symptoms or to cure a hangover.

  • You crave alcohol. You may have a desire to drink more often and to drink larger amounts of alcohol.

  • You spend less time doing more important things. You have trouble taking part in social or daily activities at school, work, or home.

  • You continue to drink even when it causes problems. You may have problems with your family, friends, or coworkers but still want to drink.

  • You have given up activities that you like. You would rather drink instead.

  • You have put yourself in physically dangerous settings while drinking. These may include driving a car or having unprotected sex after drinking.

How is AUD diagnosed? Your healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms over the last 12 months. He will diagnose you as having mild, moderate, or severe AUD if you have 2 or more symptoms.

How is AUD treated? Your healthcare provider may admit you to the hospital to help you withdraw from alcohol safely. Then you may need any of the following:

  • Medicines to decrease your craving for alcohol

  • Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous

  • Therapy services from a psychiatrist or psychologist

  • Admission to an inpatient facility for treatment for severe dependence

Where can I get more information about AUD?

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    PO Box 2345
    Rockville , MD 20847-2345
    Web Address:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
    Web Address:

What are the risks of AUD? Alcohol can damage your brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and liver. Your risk of stroke is greater if you have 5 or more drinks each day. If you are pregnant, you and your baby are at risk for serious health problems.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.