Alcohol is legal in most countries around the world and it is easy to buy and consume. For most people, moderate alcohol consumption isn’t harmful. For others, drinking becomes a severe problem and is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older (6.2 percent of this age group) had AUD. This includes 9.8 million men (8.4 percent of men in this age group) and 5.3 million women (4.2 percent of women in this age group).
Alcohol dependence causes:
Drinking too much alcohol is dangerous for your health. Heavy drinking can increase the risk of certain cancers, particularly cancers of the oral cavity (excluding the lips), pharynx (throat), and larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, breast, colon and rectum, pancreas, ovary, prostate, stomach, uterus, bladder, and probably kidney cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Alcohol abuse can cause anemia, dementia, depression, seizures, gout, high blood pressure and pancreatitis. It may damage your nerves, liver, brain, heart, and other organs. It can have harmful effects like Fetal Alcohol Syndrome if a pregnant woman drinks, and it increases risk of death from car crash, injury, homicide, and suicide.
To be diagnosed with AUD, individuals must meet 2 of the 11 criteria described below during the same 12-month period. The severity of an AUD—mild, moderate, or severe—is based on the number of criteria met. Use the questions below to assess whether you or loved one may have an AUD.
In the past year, have you:
If you answered yes to two of these statements, your drinking may already be a cause for concern. The more symptoms you have, the more urgent the need for change.
In 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. founded and sponsored April as Alcohol Awareness Month to encourage the public to learn about alcoholism and recovery. Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease that is fatal if untreated, and can be linked to genetic predisposition. However, there is hope. People can and do recover. Even severe cases can be addressed, amended, and resolved. Individuals and their families can recover their lives and enjoy living one day at a time.
To learn more and get help for yourself or a loved one, visit:
If you are a family member or loved one:
If you think you may be struggling with addiction:
If you are a teenager living with an alcoholic: