AAlcohol use disorder (AUD) is, broadly speaking, any drinking of alcohol that results in mental and/or physical health problems. There can be plenty of confusion between the terms alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, alcoholism, and AUD. AUD is often used interchangeably with alcoholism. AUD was previously divided into two types: alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.
The following definitions are derived from the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fourth Edition (DSM-4):
- Alcohol abuse = repeated alcohol use despite recurrent adverse consequences.
- Alcohol dependence = alcohol abuse + at least three of the following over a one-year period:
- Tolerance – increasingly more amounts of alcohol needed to have the “hit”
- Physiological withdrawal – excessive sweating, vomiting, generalized aches and pains, and sleep disturbances
- Drinking greater amounts of alcohol or over a longer period of time than originally intended
- Unsuccessful attempts to reduce the amount of alcohol taken or an inability to control use
- Great deal of time spent getting, drinking, or recovering from alcohol use
- Social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced – to the extent that one is unable to fulfil one’s responsibilities
- Continued use despite knowledge of harmful physical or psychological consequences
- An intense or strong drive to drink alcohol
- Alcohol usage that results in risky situations
How much alcohol is too much?
NIAAA defines a standard drink as one 12-ounce bottle of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), men may be at risk for alcohol-related problems if their alcohol consumption exceeds 14 standard drinks per week, and women may be at risk if they have more than 7 standard drinks per week.
In the United States, AUD affects approximately 7% of adults and 3% of people aged between 12 and 17 years, and it is more common in males than in females.