Why is Alcoholism Now Called Alcohol Use Caron Treatment Centers

Combined with medications and behavioral treatment provided by health care professionals, mutual-support groups can offer a valuable added layer of support. Given the widespread prevalence of problem drinking, heavy drinking, and binge drinking among young adults and the general public, healthcare providers must rely on a standardized manual for defining alcohol use disorder (AUD). Your doctor may screen you for this condition by asking you questions about your drinking habits, including how much and how often you drink and whether or not you feel drinking alcohol has interfered with your life negatively.

is alcoholism a disorder

“AUD” is not a term you are likely to hear at an average AA meeting, though plenty of other recovery programs and groups do use this clinically accurate term. Though some people may view terms like “alcoholic” as unhelpful or negative, many still use this term to describe their experience with AUD. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), for example, uses terms related to alcoholism to describe those in recovery (6). Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is now the clinically accepted term used by doctors and mental health professionals. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually start within eight hours after the last drink, but they can still occur days later.

Is alcoholism a mental health disorder?

If you have a parent with alcohol use disorder, you are more at risk for alcohol problems. Therapy, whether alone or as part of a group, can help you understand your disorder and what may have caused it. You’ll get assistance staying away from alcohol and sticking with your treatment plan. The support of your loved ones is important, so they might need or want to be involved too. Alcohol withdrawal can usually be treated outside of the hospital, but some severe cases do require hospitalization.

The main difference between AUD and alcoholism is clinical terminology and diagnosis. A doctor won’t diagnose you with alcoholism, but you may hear this term used in non-clinical settings to describe the symptoms and effects of alcohol use disorder. These two terms were once used interchangeably, but this changed in 2013, when the DSM-5 recognized AUD as the official diagnosable condition. Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
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So, Why Is Alcoholism Considered a Chronic Disease?

Treatment options often include a combination of medications, therapy and cognitive behavioral treatment in inpatient and outpatient settings. It has some elements of heritability, meaning there are genetic components that can run in families. Whether or not you develop diabetes is based on a combination of your family’s genes and your personal lifestyle choices, like diet and exercise. You may be genetically more predisposed to developing alcoholism if you have a family member or ancestor who had an alcohol addiction.

Alcoholism is no longer diagnosed but is instead an everyday term used to describe symptoms of AUD (7). Alcohol withdrawal ranges from mild to severe and in some cases can be life-threatening. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms worsen as the detox process continues. This means how you feel on day one or two of not drinking may not be a good indicator of your risk of serious withdrawal.


In addition to sex, factors such as weight, age, genetics, metabolism, and overall health, influence how someone will respond to alcohol. Read on to learn why AUD is considered a mental health condition, which mental health conditions commonly occur alongside it, and treatment options. For many people, alcohol seems inextricably linked with a social life. Friends gather for after-work drinks, spouses have cocktails together for “date nights” or some may just be in the habit of ending the day with a beer or a glass of wine—or two—or more. It can be hard to identify the lines between casual and occasional drinking and unhealthy alcohol use including alcohol use disorder.

  • Health professionals now say that a person has an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
  • An alcohol use disorder is a medical diagnosis to describe a person or persons with an alcohol problem.
  • Alcoholism is a layman’s term and not a clinical term used in medical diagnosis.
  • Others may be able to find success with outpatient care, which allows them to continue to live at home and go to work while in treatment.
  • No matter the severity, the key characteristic in people who have AUD is an impaired ability to control their alcohol use despite consequences.

However, about 18 million adult Americans have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Severe AUD is sometimes called alcoholism or alcohol dependence. It’s also called alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction or alcohol abuse. If you feel that you sometimes drink too much alcohol, or your drinking is causing problems, or if your family is concerned about your drinking, talk with your health care provider. Other ways to get help include talking with a mental health professional or seeking help from a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or a similar type of self-help group.

Symptoms (which are typically experienced in addition to others caused by alcohol withdrawal) include delirium (confusion), high blood pressure, and agitation. Daily drinking can have serious consequences for a person’s health, both in the short- and long-term. Many of the effects of drinking every day can sober house be reversed through early intervention. For most adults, moderate alcohol use — no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women and older people — is relatively harmless. (A “drink” means 1.5 ounces of spirits, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer, all of which contain 0.5 ounces of alcohol.

is alcoholism a disorder