What is an AUD?

Oct 10, 2023

You may know someone who believes they don’t have a drinking problem because they’re not addicted. The truth is, an alcohol use disorder (AUD) covers more than just the diagnosis of addiction. In this blog post, we’ll explain why any unhealthy form or pattern of drinking, such as binge drinking, can reveal the presence of an AUD in someone you love.

What is an alcohol use disorder? You have heard the term “alcoholism” for years, but an AUD is a relatively new label for alcohol-related issues. It is a long-term medical condition characterized by an individual’s unwillingness to limit their alcohol intake despite consequences for their health, social lives, and general well-being. People with an AUD experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking, an increased tolerance to alcohol over time, and a struggle to limit their number of drinks once they start. Effective treatment for an AUD begins with a medical detox and continues with a structured and personalized program, peer and family support, help for any co-occurring issues, and aftercare planning. 

What Is AUD?

Individuals with AUD often find it challenging to limit their alcohol intake and have a strong desire to drink at unacceptable times. Higher tolerance leads to increasing the amounts consumed and experiencing withdrawal symptoms any time they quit drinking. AUD can lead to a reduction in social, occupational, or recreational activities and neglect of job and personal duties. Individuals with AUD often continue to drink even when it causes or worsens physical or psychological problems or leads to social or interpersonal issues. They spend a significant amount in obtaining, using, or recovering from alcohol. The use of alcohol can occur in risky situations, too. To be diagnosed with an AUD, an individual must exhibit at least two of these symptoms within a 12-month period.

Self-Assessment for an AUD

A self-assessment cannot replace a professional evaluation. However, it can be a useful initial step to gauge whether you might have an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Here are some questions to ask yourself when doing a self-assessment alone or with the help of a loved one.

Frequency of Drinking:

How often do you consume alcohol?

Do you drink daily or almost daily?

Quantity of Alcohol:

How much alcohol do you typically consume at one time?

Have you noticed an increase in the amount of alcohol needed to achieve the desired effect (tolerance)?

Loss of Control:

Do you find trying to cut down or control your drinking difficult? 

Do you often drink more than you intended?

Cravings and Thoughts About Drinking:

Do you frequently think about or crave alcohol, even when you’re not drinking?

Have you experienced strong urges to drink at inappropriate times?

Withdrawal Symptoms:

Have you ever had withdrawal symptoms when you stopped or reduced your alcohol consumption?

Do you often experience unexplained nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety?

Neglect of Responsibilities and Preferred Activities

Has your alcohol use led to neglect of important responsibilities at work, school, or home?

Have you reduced or given up activities you used to enjoy in favor of drinking?

Continued Use Despite Harm:

Have you continued to drink despite experiencing negative consequences like health problems or relationship issues?

Time Spent on Alcohol:

Do you find that a significant amount of your time is spent obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of alcohol?

Risky Situations:

Have you ever put yourself or others in physical danger due to drinking, such as drinking and driving?

Social and Interpersonal Issues:

Has your routine alcohol use caused problems in your relationships or social life?

Signs and Symptoms of an AUD

Every one of the questions in the self-assessment relates to signs or symptoms of an alcohol use disorder. Some other signs you may recognize in a loved one with an AUD include hiding of their alcohol use, stashing alcohol in secret places, or becoming defensive or evasive when questioned about their drinking. Also, you may notice your loved one skips medical appointments or ignores prescribed treatments. In addition, they may experience financial difficulties due to spending a significant portion of their income on alcohol. As an extension of the financial issue, they may ask to borrow money or even steal money or goods to sell in order to buy alcohol for themselves.

Withdrawal with an AUD

Depending on the individual’s level of AUD and other conditions, withdrawal symptoms can vary in severity and onset. These symptoms might be moderate, severe, or even life-threatening in some circumstances. During alcohol withdrawal, jitteriness, restlessness, and anxiety are frequent symptoms. It is also normal to sweat excessively, sometimes to the point where the sheets or clothes are soaked. During alcohol withdrawal, many people get sick to their stomachs and may vomit. They may experience palpitations or a racing heartbeat as the heart rate rises. Blood pressure might increase, which can cause headaches and other symptoms. Another typical withdrawal symptom is having trouble sleeping or staying asleep. Some people report having touch, aural, or visual hallucinations. They can range from minor (such as noticing tiny distortions) to severe (such as vivid and unsettling visions). Seizures are possible in long-term drinkers suffering from severe alcohol withdrawal.

Getting Help at Origins Recovery & Counseling

People experiencing moderate to severe symptoms should seek medical attention right away. Withdrawal without medical support can lead to many complications. In fact, delirium tremens is a medical emergency that should never be handled without a medically supervised detox. This form of detox ensures you have someone to manage your symptoms and minimize discomfort. 

Once stabilized and detoxed, Origins Recovery & Counseling provides lifesaving outpatient care and specialized therapies, including help for co-occurring mental health disorders. Family involvement is encouraged, too, as a way for loved ones to better understand addiction and begin the process of healing together. 

Origins Recovery & Counseling is a program in Dallas, Texas, made available by a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We provide a comprehensive diagnostic assessment and evaluation, as well as renowned clinical care for addiction. We have the compassion and professional expertise needed to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 866-671-4124.

You May Also Like…

Complex PTSD vs BPD

Complex PTSD vs BPD

Overlapping symptoms of two mental health disorders can make it difficult to differentiate between the two on your...