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Alcohol use disorder Symptoms and its Causes


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

Alcohol use disorder:

Alcohol use disorder is a medical illness characterised by excessive or frequent alcohol consumption. People with alcohol use disorders are unable to stop even when it is causing mental, emotional and physical problems for you and others. You may face withdrawal symptoms when you suddenly reduce or quit drinking. It can vary from mild to severe and can advance promptly or slowly over the period of time. It is also called alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse.

How much one can drink?

One should remember to drink in moderation. Which means no more than one drink a day if you are a woman and no more than 2 if you are a man. One drink equals:

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

Keep a close check on how many drinks you have during a week. Having more than seven drinks per week and more than three in a day is very risky for women. For men more than 14 drinks per week or more than 4 drinks in a day is very heavy.


Alcohol dependence can be mild, moderate or severe depending on the symptoms you may experience. Some of the significant signs and symptoms are:

  • Being unable to control alcohol drinking
  • Trying to limit your drinking or making unsuccessful attempts to control it
  • Spending most of your time drinking, getting alcohol or recovering from it
  • Having strong urge to drink
  • Unable to fulfill necessary duties at work, school or home
  • Continuously drinking alcohol even after knowing its obvious repercussions
  • Leaving all the important work for alcohol consumption
  • Using alcohol which can lead to unsafe situations such as when swimming or drinking
  • Developing alcohol tolerance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating and shuddering when you give up drinking or consume alcohol to avert these symptoms.
  • Blacking out
  • Not remembering things clearly
  • Feeling cranky
  • Frequent hangovers
  • Obsessing over alcohol

Alcohol use disorder includes periods of alcohol intoxication and symptoms of withdrawal are:

  • Alcohol intoxication: intoxication happens as the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream rises. The likelihood of negative effects increases with blood alcohol content. Alcohol use results in altered mental and behavioural functioning. Inappropriate behaviour, volatile moods, poor judgement, slurred speech, memory or attention issues, and lack of coordination are a few examples. Additionally, you may experience “blackouts,” where you lose memory of previous events. High blood alcohol levels have been associated to death, lasting brain damage, and comas.
  • Alcohol withdrawal: happens when heavy and chronic alcohol use is suddenly stopped or drastically decreased, alcohol withdrawal can occur. It can happen right afterwards or up to four or five days later. Sweating, a fast heartbeat, trembling hands, trouble sleeping, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, restlessness and agitation, anxiety, and occasionally seizures are among the signs and symptoms. The severity of the symptoms may make it difficult for you to operate socially or at work.

Some of the other alcohol dependence withdrawal symptoms that people with this disorder face are:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Crankiness
  • Nausea
  • Heart racing
  • Restlessness
  • Shivering
  • Perspiration
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens
  • Coma and death


Your body’s reaction to alcohol and how it impacts your behaviour can be influenced by genetic, childhood events, psychological, social, and environmental factors. According to theories, drinking might have a different and more profound effect on some individuals, which can result in an alcohol use disorder. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption may alter the normal operation of the parts of your brain connected to pleasure, judgement and the capacity for behaviour control. This may result in craving alcohol to try to restore good feelings or minimize negative ones. You are more likely to develop this disorder if they:

  • Consume heavy amounts of alcohol or are early drinkers in life.
  • Experienced sexual or physical trauma
  • Have family history of alcohol use disorder
  • Have anxiety, depression or grief
  • Have eating disorders
  • Have had stomach bypass surgery for weight related issues


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is used to diagnose AUD. List of 11 questions reveal typical symptoms. If you have two of the symptoms in 12 months you will be diagnosed with AUD. The intensity of AUD depends on how many symptoms they have. 6 or more correct questions highlight that you have severe case of AUD. Doctor may ask certain questions:

  • Do you spend a lot of time in drinking or spend getting over the after effects?
  • Do you crave for drinks so bad that you could not think of anything else?
  • Do you still drink even after all the troubles it has caused you?
  • Do you feel drinking restrict you from performing your duties?


Many people are reluctant to get alcohol use disorder treatment because they fail to identify that they have this disorder. Guidance from any loved one can definitely help some people recognize and seek some professional help. Get professional help in alcohol treatment and how to approach your loved one regarding this disorder.

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