What is Alcohol Use Disorder? How to Identify If You Have AUD

Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a chronic brain disease characterized by an inability to control alcohol consumption despite negative consequences. AUD affects the brain's reward system, leading to a state where the individual seeks alcohol to feel pleasure or avoid discomfort. It ranges from mild to severe, and recognizing where you fall on this spectrum is crucial for seeking appropriate help.

Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

  1. Craving: Strong urge to drink alcohol.
  2. Loss of Control: Inability to limit drinking on any occasion.
  3. Physical Dependence: Withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, such as nausea, sweating, or shaking.
  4. Tolerance: Needing more alcohol to achieve the same effect.

Diagnosing Alcohol Use Disorder

AUD is diagnosed based on a pattern of behavior related to alcohol use. Some key indicators include:

  • Drinking more or longer than intended.
  • Trying to cut down or stop drinking without success.
  • Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from its effects.
  • Giving up important activities to drink.
  • Continuing to drink despite knowing it's causing physical or mental health issues.

Treatment Options

1. Medical Treatment

  • Medication: Drugs like Naltrexone and Acamprosate can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps change drinking behaviors.

2. Support Groups

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): Provides social support through peer groups.
  • Online Communities: Platforms like Faces and Voices of Recovery offer support and resources.

3. Holistic Approaches

  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Techniques to manage stress and cravings.
  • Exercise and Nutrition: Building a healthy lifestyle to support recovery.

Initial Steps to Take

If you suspect you have AUD, taking immediate steps can make a significant difference:

  • Self-Assessment: Take a quiz to evaluate your drinking habits.
  • Seek Professional Help: Contact a healthcare provider for an assessment.
  • Educate Yourself: Learn about alcohol use and its effects through resources like Rethinking Drinking.


Alcohol Use Disorder is a complex condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Understanding AUD, recognizing its symptoms, and knowing the available treatment options are crucial steps toward recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use, take the first step by seeking help and utilizing resources designed to support you on your journey to sobriety. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and it can lead to a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Additional Resources

For more in-depth discussions and personal stories, check out our podcast episode featuring Kori Turner, LPC, LAC, ADS, on YouTube.