Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition,” (DSM-5) published in 2013, states there are 11-symptoms of alcohol use disorder:

The symptoms to be aware of include:

  • You often drink alcohol in larger amounts or over a longer period than you intend
  • You want to cut down or control your alcohol use but your efforts may be unsuccessful
  • You spend a lot of time getting alcohol, using it, and recovering from the effects of your drinking
  • You have alcohol cravings
  • Your use of alcohol results in failing to meet your obligations at work, school, or home
  • You continue to use alcohol despite it leading to recurrent problems socially or in your relationships
  • You give up or reduce your participation in important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of your use of alcohol
  • You use alcohol in situations in which it is physically hazardous (such as driving, operating machinery)
  • You continue to use alcohol even knowing that you have a physical or psychological problem that is caused by or made worse by alcohol
  • You experience alcohol tolerance, either by needing more alcohol to get intoxicated or you feel diminished effects when drinking the same amount of alcohol
  • You experience withdrawal syndrome or you use alcohol or other substances to prevent withdrawal symptoms

Mild, Moderate, or Severe Drinking

  • If you have two to three symptoms, you could be diagnosed with a mild disorder;
  • If you have four to five symptoms, you are likely to have a moderate alcohol use disorder;
  • If you have six or more of the symptoms, you have a severe alcohol use disorder, and it is likely that you would be considered to be an alcoholic under the common use of the term

Previous definitions of alcohol dependence and alcoholism included having three of seven symptoms that included excessive use of alcohol, the persistence of alcohol use, impaired control of alcohol consumption, large amounts of time spent in alcohol-related activities, withdrawal symptoms, neglect of other activities, and tolerance of alcohol.

Physical Signs of Alcohol Dependency

Below are some of the physical signs that can develop from an alcohol dependency:

  • Frequently having the smell of alcohol on the breath, this can continue for multiple hours after heavy drinking
  • Neglecting the need to eat due in favour of drinking resulting in loss of weight
  • Being severely dehydrated due to alcohol consumption, causing dry skin and damaged brittle hair and nails
  • The appearance of broken capillaries on your face and nose
  • The development of yellow eyes and skin due to liver damage
  • Poor hygiene

Physical Symptoms of Alcoholism

Alcohol dependency is considered a treatable disease for those who are ready to get help. Deciding to get help for your alcohol dependency before it turns into a severe drinking disorder could save your life.

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