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Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol Use Disorder - what used to be called alcoholism - is a condition related to the misuse or abuse of alcohol. When problematic drinking becomes severe, and a person's drinking pattern causes significant distress, they are given a medical diagnosis of Alcohol Use Disorder or AUD. To be diagnosed with AUD, a person must meet the criteria outlined below. The severity of AUD—mild, moderate, or severe—is based on the number of symptoms the person is experiencing. Any of these symptoms are a cause for concern; even a mild disorder can lead to health issues or problems at home, work, or school. 


A person with AUD may behave in the following ways:

  • Drinking more or for a longer period of time than intended

  • Difficulty stopping or cutting down drinking despite effort

  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from the effects of alcohol

  • Having cravings or a strong urge to drink

  • Difficulty meeting obligations at home, work, or school due to drinking or the aftereffects

  • Continued drinking despite the trouble it causes with family or friends

  • Giving up or cutting back on important or interesting activities in order to drink

  • Recurrent driving, swimming, use of machinery, or engaging in other unsafe activities while or after drinking

  • Continued drinking even when it has led to physical or psychological problems

  • Drinking more to feel the desired effect of alcohol (building up a tolerance) 

  • Withdrawal symptoms - such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating - when the effects of alcohol wear off

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