Diagnosis of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
The doctor will ask about a person's symptoms and health history. The person will also be asked about their alcohol use and the impact it may be having on their life.
AUD is diagnosed when a person has 2 or more of the following problems in the past year:
- Drinking more or longer than intended
- Wanting to cut down or stop drinking but not being able to do so
- Spending a lot of time drinking, being sick, or recovering from drinking
- Wanting a drink so badly that it gets in the way of all other thoughts
- Drinking habits that cause problems with a person's home, family, job, or school
- Drinking despite the problems that it causes with family and friends
- Giving up or cutting back on activities to spend more time drinking
- Using alcohol in dangerous situations, such as when swimming
- Drinking despite knowing the physical and mental health problems it is worsening
- Needing to drink more to get the same effect
- Having withdrawal symptoms when alcohol wears off, such as problems sleeping, shakiness, and nausea
A physical exam will be done to look for signs of damage from AUD. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. There are no tests to diagnose AUD.
- Alcohol blood testing. Lab Tests Online—American Association for Clinical Chemistry website. Available at: https://www.testing.com/tests/alcohol-blood-test.
- Alcohol use disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/alcohol-use-disorder.
- Alcohol withdrawal syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/alcohol-withdrawal-syndrome.
- Day E, Copello A, Hull M. Assessment and management of alcohol use disorders. BMJ. 2015;350:h715.
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
- Adrian Preda, MD
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