Alcohol Awareness, Part 3: What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Drinking excessively, which includes heavy drinking and binge drinking, not only increases an individual’s risk of harmful consequences and health problems, but also increases their risk of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). The more heavy drinking over time, the greater the risk for developing AUD. Some signs and symptoms of AUD include the following:
Drinking more, or longer, than you intended.
Experiencing a crave – a strong need or urge – to drink.
Having to drink much more than before to get the effect you want.
Continuing to drink even though it is causing trouble with your family or friends.
Finding that drinking – or being sick from drinking – often interferes with your work or school.
Continuing to drink even though it makes you feel depressed or anxious or adds to another health problem.
Being unable to cut down or stop drinking after repeated attempts.
Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as a racing heart, sweating, shakiness, restlessness or trouble sleeping, when the effects of alcohol were wearing off.
If you have any of these signs or symptoms, your drinking may already be a cause for concern. The more signs and symptoms you have, the more urgent the need for change. A doctor can conduct a formal evaluation of your signs and symptoms to see if AUD is present and to make an official diagnosis, if warranted.
In sum, AUD is a chronic disease of the brain characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using alcohol. It helps to know the signs and symptoms of AUD so you can make a change early. Even if you have signs and symptoms, you can take steps to reduce your risks. Talk with your doctor to determine the best steps for you.
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