In 2016, the United States National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that of Americans over the age of 12:
- 7 million reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days.
- 3 million reported binge drinking (defined as drinking 4 or more drinks on at least one occasion in the past 30 days for women, and 5 or more for men).
- 3 million reported heavy drinking (defined as binge drinking on five or more days in the past 30 days).
These statistics illustrate the societal acceptance and prevalence of alcohol use in our country, but what they don’t tell us is how many of these individuals have a problem with drinking. Most of us are familiar with the term alcoholism as a description of an addiction to alcohol. The term alcoholism is defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine as follows:
Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or periodic: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial.
The term alcoholism, however, has recently been replaced by the term Alcohol Use Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V). In the DSM-V, Alcohol Use Disorder can be further separated into mild, moderate or severe categories depending on the number of listed criteria that a person endorses.
The list that follows includes the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder in the DSM-V. These are the symptoms that doctor look for when determining whether someone has a drinking problem, or Alcohol Use Disorder.
Read through the following explanations and count the number of statements that apply to your (or your loved ones) drinking habits over the past 12 months. This list applies to both adolescents and adults. The endorsement of two or more of the following criteria indicates a problematic pattern of alcohol use.
- Often drinking larger amounts or over a longer period of time than intended.
- Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
- Spending a great deal of time in activities necessary to obtain, use, or recover from the effects of alcohol.
- Craving alcohol or a strong desire or urge to drink alcohol.
- Recurrent use of alcohol results in a failure to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home.
- Continuing to use alcohol despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
- Giving up or reducing important social, occupational or recreational activities because of alcohol use.
- Recurrent use of alcohol in situations where it is physically hazardous to do so.
- Continuing to use alcohol despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol use.
- Tolerance to alcohol, which is the phenomenon of needing to use increasing amounts of alcohol to get the desired effect.
- Physical withdrawal symptoms that occur when alcohol consumption is stopped.
If you endorsed, or can relate to, 2 or more of the above statements, you might have an Alcohol Use Disorder. Severity of Alcohol Use Disorder is measured in terms of the number of items endorsed.
Yes to 2 or 3 items: Mild Alcohol Use Disorder
Yes to 4 or 5 items: Moderate Alcohol Use Disorder
Yes to 6 or more items: Severe Alcohol Use Disorder
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, drug addiction, Mental Health problems, The Redpoint Center is here to help. The Redpoint Center treats both adults and youth struggling with addiction and alcohol. To learn more about our Longmont Drug Rehab, call 888-509-3153.