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The criteria for alcohol use disorder

Less than 10 percent of adults who struggled with alcoholism received professional help for their disease, according to a report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. That’s a troubling statistic, especially given the high percentage of people who meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder, or AUD.

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 14.4 million adults in the United States had AUD in 2018. The 11 criteria for AUD are outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and people who meet any two of those criteria in a 12-month period are considered to have AUD. People who are unsure if they meet the criteria for AUD can ask themselves the following questions:

• Have there been times when I ended up drinking more or longer than I intended?

• Have I, on more than one occasion, wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?

• Have I spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects of drinking?

• Have I experienced a strong need, or urge, to drink?

• Have I found that drinking (or being sick from drinking) has often interfered with my ability to take care of my home or family? Has drinking caused problems at work or at school?

• Have I continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with my family or friends?

• Have I given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to me, or gave me pleasure, in order to drink?

• Have I found myself in situations while or after drinking that increased my chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?

• Have I continued to drink even though it was making me feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?

• Have I had to drink much more than I once did to get the effect I want? Or have I found that my usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?

• Have I experienced withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating, when the effects of alcohol were wearing off? Have I sensed things that were not there?

The NIAAA warns that people who have any of these symptoms may already have a problem with drinking. Those who suspect they have a problem can utilize the NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator at https://alcoholtreatment.niaaa.nih.gov/ to get started on their road to recovery.