Alcohol Use Disorder: Know the Facts and Inspire Dialogue
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, an annual health observance intended to inspire dialogue about alcohol use. These facts about alcohol use disorder can help you start the conversation with a friend or colleague affected by this disorder.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), alcohol use disorder is “a problematic pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by at least two of the following, occurring within a 12-month period.”
- The inability to limit one’s amount of alcohol use or time spent drinking
- Unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use
- Spending a great deal of time obtaining alcohol, using alcohol or recovering from alcohol use
- Having a craving, strong desire or urge to use alcohol
- Failure to fulfill work, school or home responsibilities.
- Continued drinking despite ongoing relationship problems that are made worse by drinking
- Giving up or reducing important social, occupational or recreational activities in order to use alcohol
- Drinking in situations that are potentially dangerous, such as while driving a car.
- Continued drinking despite having an ongoing physical or psychological problem that may be caused by alcohol use
- Tolerance – the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to achieve the desired effect
- Withdrawal symptoms that occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking (nausea, sweating, shaking, etc.)
Consequences of alcohol misuse include:
- Increased risk for certain cancers, such as those of the liver, esophagus, throat and larynx.
- Heavy drinking can cause liver cirrhosis, immune system problems and brain damage in the drinker. Some studies have shown that women are at higher risk for alcohol-related health problems than men.
- Alcohol use during pregnancy can result in serious harm to the developing fetus, and it can cause lifelong problems in the child.
- Drinking increases the risk of death from automobile accidents, and it increases the risk of involvement in recreational and on-the-job injuries.
Use these facts to help start a conversation about the serious risks of substance use. You just might help someone get on the road to recovery.
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