In this article
Alcohol addiction occurs when a person is unable to quit drinking despite the problems it causes. The technical term for alcohol addiction is alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Someone with an AUD also experiences physical alcohol dependence. Withdrawal symptoms will develop if they suddenly stop drinking. These can include nausea, shaking, anxiety, and seizures, among others.
The DSM-5 (the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders—the gold standard for mental health disorders in the United States) defines AUDs as substance use disorders where an individual displays two of the following 11 symptoms in a year:
The most common causes of AUD include:
Genetics and family history can contribute to your risk of developing an AUD.
However, there isn't just one "alcoholic gene" that increases a person's risk of developing alcoholism.
Two genes that have the strongest known link to alcoholism include:
A person’s poor coping skills regarding stress, negative feelings, and boredom can make them vulnerable to alcohol addiction. If they are unable to handle stressors, alcohol can make coping easier for them.
AUD often co-occurs with a mental health disorder (dual diagnosis).
Common mental health issues associated with AUD include:
People who have received a dual diagnosis often drink alcohol to relieve unpleasant symptoms. This is known as self-medication.
While drinking in college may seem ordinary, it can lead to alcoholism down the road.
Nine percent of college students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder.10 This is due to the popularity of binge drinking. This type of drinking can continue even after someone leaves college, potentially leading to an AUD.
If you identify with any of the symptoms listed above, it may be time for alcohol addiction treatment. Drinking alone is another early sign. The earlier you seek treatment, the better chance you have of a successful, long-term recovery.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a disease. It's difficult and dangerous to try to overcome on it your own. This is because withdrawal symptoms can be potentially deadly, so professional support is essential.
If you or a loved one struggles with an alcohol use disorder (AUD), there is help available.
Here are some treatment options to get you started:
In this article