What is Alcoholism and Alcohol Use Disorder?

What is Alcoholism and Alcohol Use Disorder
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According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 14.4 million Americans 18 years of age and older had an alcohol use disorder (AUD). An alcohol use disorder or AUD is what in years past was referred to generically as alcoholism, having a drinking problem, or being an “alcoholic.”

The definition of an alcoholic in the Merriam Webster dictionary is “a person afflicted with alcoholism”. Alcoholism is defined as “a chronic, progressive, potentially fatal disorder marked by the excessive and usually compulsive drinking of alcohol leading to psychological or physical dependence or addiction”.

And while the name for this chronic disease is changing, what defines an alcoholic, problem drinker, binge drinker, or even an excessive drinker remains much the same. What also remains the same, is the havoc, pain, and ongoing issues alcohol use disorders cause not only to the person struggling with the problem but also to their families and loved ones.

Understanding the Signs of an Alcohol Problem

Over the years, psychologists, doctors, families of loved ones with an alcohol issue, and even the person struggling with the alcohol problem have tried to understand this often baffling disease. The causes of it and how it can be treated or ‘cured’ are at the forefront of these questions.

It’s important to understand the difference between what is acceptable social drinking and what criteria make a person considered to have an AUD. For many, grabbing a drink with coworkers on a Friday or having a glass of wine or beer after work help them to relax and socialize. However, for some, this occasional couple of drinks can turn into daily drinking of more than just one or two. Since alcohol is such a socially acceptable way to socialize and unwind, the line between normal drinking and problem drinking can often blur—particularly in the early stages of an AUD.


Signs of an Alcohol Use Disorder:

  • Trying to cut down on how much you drink or how often but unable to do so
  • Drinking more than intended or longer than planned
  • Being sick from drinking
  • Craving or ‘needing’ a drink
  • Negating family, work, or school responsibilities to drink or because you were sick from prior drinking
  • Continuing to drink despite negative consequences with family, friends, work, or having legal issues
  • Having to drink more to get the ‘relief’ or ‘effect’ you had from less alcohol before
  • Giving up or cutting back on hobbies or other activities you enjoyed before to make more time to drink
  • Continuing to drink after experiencing a memory loss or blackout during drinking
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol were wearing off: anxiety, shakiness, irritability, depression, nausea, sweating, restlessness, etc.

If you, or a loved one, are experiencing any of these symptoms, there could be an AUD present. The more symptoms you relate with, the greater the chance there is an AUD, and the more important it is to seek treatment.

Alcoholism or AUD is a progressive and chronic disease. This means that with time, the problem only gets worse. It also is important to understand that like other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and asthma, there isn’t a cure. However, there are treatments for the disease that can keep it under control and return normalcy, joy, and happiness to the lives of those with AUD and their families.

If you think you or someone you love may have an alcohol use disorder, Pinnacle Treatment Centers is here to help. With numerous locations across the nation, Pinnacle helps you overcome alcoholism and addiction to create a new, vibrant life in recovery. Contact us online or call 1-800-782-1520.

Headquartered in New Jersey, Pinnacle Treatment Centers is a recognized leader in comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment serving more than 29,000 patients daily in California, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. With more than 110 community-based locations, Pinnacle provides a full continuum of quality care for adult men and women which includes medically-monitored detoxification/withdrawal management, inpatient/residential treatment, partial hospitalization/care, sober living, intensive and general outpatient programming, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder.

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