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Alcohol Use Disorder and its stages


This article is for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Seek medical care for your treatment.

What is alcohol use disorder?

Alcohol used disorder (AUD) is an acute illness that is uncontrollable or you can’t quit drinking, even when it badly impacts your mental and physical health, social and family life or work. When you drink alcohol excessively it puts your life in danger. When you lose control over your drinking it is the sign alcohol dependence. It is also called alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction. It can range from mild to chronic. Prompt care is essential since even a moderate illness can aggravate quickly or over a long period of time and cause major issues.

Alcohol dependence is a disease of brain function and calls for medical and psychological treatments to control it.

Alcohol dependence affects 14.5 million Americans of 12 years of age or older. Excessive alcohol use kills 88,000 Americans every year.

What is binge drinking?

The consumption of excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time is binge drinking. Drinking four or more drinks in one sitting for women or five or more drinks during one single occasion for men is also binge drinking. The probable health risks are:

  • Feeble immune system
  • Injuries
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Violence
  • Crimes
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Risky sexual behavior 
  • Miscarriage

Women who drink eight or more glasses of alcohol in a week and men who consume 15 or more drinks per week are heavy drinkers. Heavy drinking leads to diseases such as:

  • Mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon and breast cancer.
  • Hypertension, heart disease, stroke, liver disease
  • Digestive issues
  • Learning and memory issues
  • Anxiety and depression

How much alcohol consumption is unhealthy?

If you want to drink do it in moderation. According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans women should not take more than one drink per day and two drinks per day for men. 

One drink equals:

  • 1.5 ounces of liquor
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 12 ounces of beer

How excessive drinking harms your safety:

Drinking excessively can affect your judgement and decrease your sense of security, resulting in poor decisions and actions, such as:

  • Accidental injuries by vehicles or drowning
  • Relationship problems
  • Bad performance at school or work
  • Inclination towards committing heinous crimes or sometimes becoming a victim of violent crimes
  • Legal problems
  • Issues with other substance use
  • Getting involved in unprotected sex or being raped
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

Negative impact of drinking on your health:

Excessive drinking can cause numerous problems for you and your loved ones. It not only damages your relations but immensely impact your overall health causing:

  • Liver disease
  • Digestive issues
  • Heart ailments
  • Complications for diabetic patients
  • Issues regarding sexual function and periods
  • Eye problems
  • Birth defects
  • Bone damage
  • Neurological complications
  • Feeble immune system
  • Greater chances of having cancer
  • Medication and alcohol interactions

Stages of alcohol use disorder:

Mentioned below are different stages of alcohol use disorder:

  • At-risk stage:  This is the time when you drink socially for pleasure, to relax, or to relieve tension. You can begin to develop a tolerance to alcohol.
  • Early alcohol use disorder: You have reached to this stage when you experience blackouts, drink solely or covertly, and think a lot about alcohol.
  • Mid-stage alcohol use disorder: in this stage your alcohol drinking is uncontrollable and cause great unrest with day to day life. Lab tests and scans reveal the organ deterioration.
  • End-stage alcohol use disorder: drinking becomes the main purpose of your life and you prefer drinking over eating, being intimate, being healthy, or being happy. Grief, organ damage problems lead to the deterioration of health.

Causes of alcohol use disorder: 

Following things can be considered to be the cause of alcohol use disorder:

  • Genetics
  • Early childhood events
  • Attempts to ease emotional agony

You are more like to develop this disorder if you:

  • Consume alcohol frequently in excessive amounts or start drinking early in your life
  • Are sexually or physically abused
  • Have Family history of heavy drinkers
  • Have mental health problems such as grief, depression, anxiety, stress or eating disorders.
  • Had stomach bypass surgery for weight loss

How to prevent alcohol use disorder?

To avert alcohol use disorder you should avoid binge drinking. Teenage difficulties caused by drinking can be avoided with early detection. Watch out for the following warning signs and symptoms if you have a teenager:

• Loss of interest in hobbies, interests, and attractiveness 

• Slurred voice, slurred eyes, coordination issues, and memory lapses

• Challenges or adjustments in friendships, including joining a new group of friends

• Dropping grades and academic issues 

• Regular mood swings and defensive behaviour 

Set a good example by abstaining from alcohol yourself, talk honestly with your child, spend time with them, and get actively involved in their lives to prevent teen drinking. Explain to your child the expected behaviour and the repercussions of breaking the rules.


Treatment can help any hopeless alcohol use disorder. Consult your healthcare provider, they can help in treatment, support programs and prescribe medicines.

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