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Understanding the Differences Between Alcohol Use Disorder and Alcoholism

For many people, AA is the most effective intervention for reducing drinking. However, because AA operates on the principle of AUD as a disease that requires total abstinence and devotion to a higher power, it may not be appealing to everyone. Also, AA is not considered “treatment” because it’s not a service provided by trained professionals. While this may seem like a limitation of AA, it’s also perhaps its greatest strength since everyone there is on the same level lending to its powerful sense of community and equality. Evidence-based psychotherapies for alcohol use disorder are also effective.

is alcoholism a disorder

Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. AUD treatment aims to help the patient achieve and maintain long-lasting sobriety, which will vary 5 Tips to Consider When Choosing a Sober Living House based on their underlying conditions and disease severity. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported (2019) that 14.5 million people aged 12 and older had an alcohol use disorder (5.3%).

What causes alcohol use disorder?

As alcoholism progresses, behaviors become more out of control and more health symptoms begin to appear. Mutual-support groups provide peer support for stopping or reducing drinking. Group meetings are available in most communities at low or no cost, and at convenient times and locations—including an increasing presence online. This means they can be especially helpful to individuals at risk for relapse to drinking.

is alcoholism a disorder

A mental obsession is a thought that plays over and over again in your head, distracting from other thoughts and priorities. Mental obsession examples include planning or scheduling activities around alcohol consumption or the effects of alcohol consumption (e.g., hangovers) and increased thinking about alcohol. Other tests can indicate whether there is damage to the liver, or — in males — reduced testosterone levels.

Addiction Treatment Programs

Nearly one-third of Americans’ alcohol consumption puts them at risk for alcohol dependence. The COVID-19 pandemic, which fueled a spike in heavy drinking, drastically widened the scope of alcohol misuse, along with related health consequences. Alcohol dependence is the distinguishing factor between alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

It also includes alcohol dependence or alcoholism, which is when you’ve lost control of your drinking. Recognizing alcohol use disorder as a mental health condition facilitates more empathetic and effective treatment, including therapy and group support. Though at-risk and binge drinking can result in a range of adverse consequences, not all people who engage in these kinds of unhealthy alcohol use have alcohol use disorder. It is important to remember that AUD is not due to an individual’s lack of self-discipline or resolve. Long-term alcohol use can produce changes in the brain that can cause people to crave alcohol, lose control of their drinking and require greater quantities of alcohol to achieve its desired effects. It can also cause people to experience withdrawal symptoms if they discontinue alcohol use.