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Alcohol Abuse Definition


You’ve probably heard about “alcohol abuse,” alcohol dependence,” or “alcoholism.” Or maybe you know the new term that doctors use: “alcohol use disorder,” which can range from mild to moderate to severe.

These are the guidelines that define an alcohol use disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association:

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  • Drinking more, or longer, than you planned to
  • Tried to cut back or stop more than once, and couldn’t
  • Spend a lot of time drinking, or being sick after drinking
  • Want alcohol so badly you can’t think of anything else
  • Have problems with work, school, or family because of your habit (or being sick after having alcohol)
  • Kept drinking even though it caused problems for you with your relationships
  • Quit or cut back on other activities that were important or enjoyable to you, in order to drink
  • More than once found yourself in situations while or after drinking that made you more likely to get hurt
  • Kept having alcohol even though it made you feel depressed or anxious, hurt your health, or led to a memory blackout
  • Had to drink more than you used to in order to get the effect you wanted. Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before.
  • Found that you had withdrawal symptoms when the buzz wore off, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure. Or seeing, hearing, or feeling things that were not there.

If you’ve had two or three of those symptoms in the last year, that’s a “mild” alcohol use disorder.

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