DSM 5 Criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder

The NIAAA, or the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines alcohol abuse and alcoholism as an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in medical language. When a person fails to control their drinking habits, this can lead to problems in their career, personal relationships, and overall health.

People use different names like alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, and alcohol addiction to talk about alcohol use disorder. Regardless of its name, alcohol use disorder is a severe and escalating illness that can result in enduring and lethal complications if not appropriately addressed.

In the United States, you find alcohol almost everywhere, from daily life to parties. Some people can handle how much they drink just fine, but many others struggle with it.

Alcohol use disorder isn’t just about someone’s life falling apart. It can be someone drinking to feel less sad or worried, a person having drinks at lunch every day, a college kid drinking a lot on weekends, or someone having a drink every night to relax. Drinking too much alcohol can harm your body and mind, leading to serious health problems over time.

Treatments for misuse of alcohol have gotten better at seeing and dealing with all the reasons behind it. Solid evidence forms the basis for the best ways to help people handle their alcohol use in everyday life. To find the best treatments for alcohol problems, you need to understand what they are.

Alcohol Use Disorder DSM 5 Criteria

The right medical name for when drinking alcohol causes problems is alcohol use disorder (AUD), and it can be a little, medium, or a lot bad. A lot of people say “alcoholism” when they talk about someone having trouble with heavy drinking. But that word can make people feel judged and doesn’t fully show how complex and challenging AUD is to understand.

The American Psychological Association (APA) relies on a book named DSM-5 to figure out if someone is dealing with alcohol issues and how bad those issues are. The DSM-5 is a guide that helps experts check for and understand how severe problems with alcohol are. This instrument assists APA in identifying issues associated with alcohol.

The 11 signs that doctors look for to see if someone has an alcohol use disorder are:

  • Drinking more or longer than you meant to
  • Wanting to cut down but not managing to
  • Spending lots of time getting, drinking, or getting over drinking
  • Wanting a drink so bad it’s all you can think of
  • Not managing to do what you should at work, school, or with friends because of drinking
  • Keep drinking even when it causes trouble with friends, family, or work buddies
  • Giving up activities you like just to drink
  • Drinking even when it could get you hurt or in danger
  • Not stopping drinking even when it causes problems
  • Needing to drink more to get the same feeling
  • Feeling sick when the effects of the alcohol wear off
alcohol use disorder risks

Only a mental health professional can diagnose alcohol use disorder. The severity can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. This is based on the person’s honest answers to the professional’s questions.

If an individual meets 2-3 standards, we consider it mild; 4-5 is moderate, and six or more is classified as severe. Many different ways can combine the criteria, so there is no single way to diagnose everyone.

SAMHSA, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, says 14 million adults in the US have issues with alcohol. Moreover, 10% of kids below 18 years of age live with a parent who indulges in excessive alcohol consumption.

No matter your background, age, or what you do for work, anyone can struggle with drinking too much. However, several factors can increase the likelihood of experiencing problems with alcohol.

Potential factors that could lead to the onset of an AUD encompass:

  • Regularly participating in binge drinking or consuming large amounts of alcohol in short time frames.
  • Possessing a familial background of substance or alcohol misuse
  • Your genetic predisposition
  • Early alcohol exposure
  • Suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety or depression
  • Enduring abuse, neglect, or traumatic incidents
  • Confronting societal expectations and peer pressure that promote alcohol consumption
  • The same risk elements can also worsen mental health issues through the misuse of alcohol.

The misuse of alcohol also increases the risk of mental health issues that are exacerbated by continuing to drink. When both mental health disorders and substance use disorders exist simultaneously, they are referred to as co-occurring disorders.

As per SAMHSA, approximately 6.5 million Americans are grappling with dual diagnosis, a situation where both a mental health disorder and an alcohol use disorder coexist. These co-occurring conditions call for a thorough, evidence-backed approach to treatment, typically through a dual diagnosis treatment program.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol

Prolonged intake of alcohol can result in harmful alterations to your physical and mental well-being.

Excessive and prolonged consumption of alcohol can result in numerous detrimental health issues, including:

  • Sadness and overall gloominess
  • Nervousness
  • Having difficulty with memory retention
  • Stomach sores
  • Liver disease
  • Heart problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Damaged nerves
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Problems in relationships
  • Not being able to have a baby
  • Acting out of character
  • Getting sick more often
  • Making bad choices or experiencing violence resulting in severe accidents
  • Not having a safe place to live
  • Having trouble with money
  • Getting into trouble with the law

How long someone is addicted to alcohol can affect the lasting effects. Some effects can improve with treatment, while others may require ongoing care for life.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone who drinks alcohol often decides to quit, all of a sudden, they might start feeling sick. Their body becomes accustomed to the alcohol, causing alcohol withdrawal syndrome to occur. Sometimes, stopping drinking can even be unsafe. Should you be contemplating giving up alcohol, it’s essential to seek advice from your doctor.

When someone stops drinking alcohol, they might feel:

  • Sweaty
  • Sick to their stomach
  • Throwing up
  • Headaches
  • Nervous
  • Shaky hands
  • Can’t sit still
  • Easily upset
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling bothered
  • Feeling sad
  • Mixed-up thoughts
  • Body feeling too hot or too cold
  • Heart beating fast
  • Body shakes that you can’t control
  • Terrible confusion and seeing things that aren’t there

Going through medical detox is the safest way to handle withdrawal. It keeps you safe and helps you avoid going back to drinking. But detox alone isn’t enough to fully recover from problems with drinking. After detox, you need treatments and therapy that work to have the best chance of getting better.

alcohol addiction treatment

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

The way we help someone with problems from drinking too much can change depending on what they need. This includes how serious their drinking problem is.

It also considers whether they use other addictive substances. Furthermore, it looks at whether they have any other health problems simultaneously. Usually, staying at a treatment place works best because it means getting help all day and night without any breaks or distractions from outside.

The usual treatments for alcohol problems that have been proven to work include:

  • Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) uses safe, approved medicines like naltrexone and acamprosate to help with withdrawal and make you want alcohol less. Sometimes, medication for mood or other health problems is also given.
  • Behavioral therapies assist you in learning how to change your thinking and behavior, help you understand why someone drinks too much, and teach ways to handle life better.
  • Support groups and programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and various other 12-step groups give a sense of community and long-lasting support.
  • Family therapy brings family members into the healing journey, helping fix and grow stronger relationships with better talking and understanding.
  • Relapse prevention planning to avoid going back to drinking lays out clear steps to face challenges ahead without using alcohol.

Treatment centers for addiction mix these and other tested methods to help people with alcohol problems in a way that supports recovery that lasts for a long time.

Treat Alcohol Use Disorder at Northridge Addiction Treatment Center

If you or someone you love is having trouble with drinking too much, Northridge Addiction Treatment Center offers compassionate and proven help for addiction and other co-occurring mental health issues.

At NATC, we provide medical detox right here to keep you safe while you go through withdrawal in a quiet, peaceful place that helps healing. After you finish withdrawal, we create a personalized treatment plan for you. This plan includes proven treatments such as individual talk therapy and support groups for our residents.

Contact us today. Our kind treatment experts are ready to help you begin a new, healthy, and joyful life based on lasting recovery. Reclaim your life today.

Find Meaningful Recovery

Our caring and compassionate specialists are eager to help you comfortably navigate this journey to recovery. Our individualized treatment plan, programs, and therapies may be a perfect match for you or your loved one. Let us assist you in living the happy life you deserve. It starts with a phone call.

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