How to Recognize Alcohol Use Disorder in Both Mild or Severe Cases

Published On: April 25, 2023Categories: Alcohol Addiction

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 140,000 people die every year due to alcohol-related causes.

Alcohol use disorder is a serious issue in the United States that affects nearly every demographic of people, ranging from high school students all the way to seniors. It’s so common that you probably know someone who has a drinking problem.

It might even be you. But how can you tell?

We’ll help you figure it out. Today we’re going to look at different alcohol use disorder criteria for both mild and severe cases, as well as the different causes, signs and symptoms of this illness.

What is alcohol use disorder?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition that’s characterized by unhealthy patterns of drinking that continue despite the negative consequences. 

AUD is most common in men except during the ages of 12–20 when women are more likely to have this disorder. In the United States alone, 1-in-10 Americans over the age of 12 are actively struggling with an alcohol use disorder according to the NIAAA

Most illnesses, disorders and conditions are not isolated, meaning, they are not sourced from any one cause but have occurred because of a variety of contributing elements. AUD is no different.

The most common alcohol use disorder causes are:

  • Genetics
  • Psychological conditions
  • Familial, social and romantic relationships
  • Religious and other environmental influences
  • Social or cultural norms and pressures
  • History of drinking 

With alcohol use disorder, there are dozens of potential risk factors at play, and usually, at least two of them play a role in the development of the disorder.

Mild alcohol use disorder vs severe alcohol use disorder

Mild alcohol use disorder and severe alcohol use disorder share several common symptoms, but there are distinctions between the two.

Though mild AUD is the least severe of all the alcohol use disorder categories, it’s not one to be dismissed or thought of to be harmless. Mild alcohol use disorders can negatively impact a person’s mind, body and overall life in a variety of ways.

For someone to be diagnosed with mild alcohol use disorder, they must be experiencing 2–3 symptoms.

Severe alcohol use disorder is commonly referred to as alcoholism. AUD at this level has instilled a deep-rooted dependence or addiction in the individual that oftentimes cannot be overcome without the assistance of medical professionals.

For alcohol use disorder to be considered severe, there must be six or more symptoms present in the person.

Alcohol use disorder symptoms

There are 11 recognized symptoms of alcohol use disorder.

These include:

  • Consuming alcohol in large amounts or longer than intended
  • Unsuccessful attempts to reduce alcohol use
  • Frequently obtaining using or recovering from alcohol
  • Strong cravings to consume alcohol
  • Prioritizing alcohol use over other obligations
  • Continuing alcohol use despite negative social or occupational consequences
  • Sacrificing activities and responsibilities for alcohol use
  • Using alcohol in physically hazardous situations (such as driving)
  • Continuing alcohol use despite negative physical or psychological problems
  • Increased tolerance (therefore increased usage for desired effects)
  • Withdrawal symptoms occurring after stopping alcohol use

Being able to recognize these elements of alcohol use disorder empowers us and others to lower the number of addiction cases and overdoses, as well as increase the number of recoveries.

Receive support today

If you or a loved one is exhibiting any of the above common warning signs of an alcohol use disorder, send us a message today to learn more about what your next options are.

Here at Tapestry, we’ve developed an evolved approach to behavioral healthcare that takes into consideration the whole person when we’re creating your treatment plan. We know that no two people are alike and that health conditions require a full-spectrum analysis in order to sustainably treat and cure. 

With the assistance of our deeply dedicated and compassionate staff, we’ll work with you and your family every step of the way to ensure a safe recovery and long-term sobriety.

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