The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) has modified some of the criteria involved in the medical definition of an alcohol use disorder. There are 11 criteria listed to help clinicians determine if their patient has AUD and how serious the problem is. A mild AUD involves experiencing two or three of the 11 symptoms for one year; a moderate AUD involves four or five of the symptoms; and a severe AUD involves six or more of the listed criteria.
The 11 criteria for defining an AUD are:
- Drinking more alcohol, or for longer, than intended
- Trying to cut down or stop drinking but being unsuccessful
- Spending a lot of time drinking or feeling sick from a hangover or other aftereffects
- Experiencing interference in daily life and relationships because of drinking or being sick from drinking too much
- Having cravings for alcohol
- Continuing to drink even though it hurt relationships with friends and family
- Cutting back on, or giving up, hobbies to consume more alcohol
- Repeatedly being in situations where alcohol put one at risk of harm
- Having to consume more alcohol to experience the desired effects
- Continuing to consume alcohol even though it worsens a health condition, including anxiety or depression
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when alcohol’s effects began to wear off
Alcohol dependence and AUD are not the same condition, but people who struggle with AUD typically are dependent on alcohol. This leads to compulsively drinking, which escalates rapidly.