Exploring the Complexities of Alcohol Use Disorder: Definitions and Diagnosis

Health & Fitness

  • Author Naresh Kumar
  • Published May 18, 2024
  • Word count 851

Alcohol abuse is a globally plaguing condition among humans. What may start as a recreation can spiral down to become severe alcohol dependence, leading to what is known as Alcohol use disorder or AUD. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that around 3 million deaths every year are due to harmful alcohol consumption. That number only refers to the recorded cases. What about the cases that go unrecorded? The number could be significant.

The fact is that alcohol consumption should be taken seriously in the early stages as it could be fatal. The medical world insists that prevention is better than cure. But to curb the menace of alcohol use disorder (AUD), awareness is paramount. With awareness, we can warn many people of the dire consequences. Let's understand it through the article.

Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder is a condition that involves loss of control over drinking, continuing to intake even when it causes problems. People with AUD often drink more to get the same feeling and exhibit withdrawal symptoms like seizures, sleep disturbances, anxiety, hallucinations, cardiovascular complications, etc.

Alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe. Some people with AUD will go on binge drinking, wherein such individuals consume 4-5 drinks within 2 hours, severely affecting their health and safety. Alcohol use disorder is also associated with more than 200 diseases and injury conditions, along with social and economic losses.

Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

Weakened memory.

Engaging in risky behaviours while drinking, such as driving, unsafe sex, or falling.

Sacrificing duties and activities to drink.

Strong cravings for alcohol.

Problems at work, school, in relationships, or with the law due to drinking.

Unable to stop drinking once started.

Constantly thinking about alcohol.

Suffering frequent hangovers.

Causes of Alcohol Use Disorder

Genetic, psychological, and environmental conditions influence alcohol use disorder. However, people with strong inner strength and family support are unlikely to develop alcohol dependence. Accordingly, the impact of alcohol drinking is different in different people.

Medically, it is known that drinking alcohol affects normal areas of brain functionality like the experience of pleasure, judgment and self-control. Such changes can lead to excess dependence on alcohol.

Alcohol Use Disorder vs Alcoholism vs Alcohol Dependence

Technically, all three terms refer to the same condition of alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder is a medically used term for someone diagnosed with the condition.

Alcoholism is a colloquial term used in everyday conversations in social contexts, among AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) therapy groups, etc., to refer to the AUD.

Alcohol dependence is also used to refer to the alcohol use disorder. However, alcohol dependence refers to the severe case of AUD wherein the person is not able to stop drinking without alcohol withdrawal symptoms. In other words, alcohol dependence refers to the severe stage of AUD.

Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT)

The WHO has developed a 10-step screening tool to diagnose alcohol abuse disorder. The alcohol use disorder identification test (AUDIT) is a questionnaire format test with two versions: A clinical-administered version and a self-report version. Each version comprises 10 questions. Based on the responses, if the score is 8 or more, it indicates a severe stage of alcohol use disorder.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder ICD-10?

The ICD-10 code F10.10 represents "Alcohol abuse, uncomplicated" or mild alcohol use disorder. It refers to excessive alcohol consumption that exceeds recommended limits without severe dependence or complicating factors. The ICD-10 code is used for medical billing and documentation purposes under the "Alcohol-related disorders" category in the ICD-10-CM coding system.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Strictly speaking, there is no single treatment for alcohol abuse disorder. It varies for every individual based on the severity of the AUD, health condition, and availability of family support. For patients with severe AUD, alcohol abuse medications may be used to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment for Alcohol Dependence

Medications:-

Approved by the U.S. FDA to help reduce or stop drinking and prevent relapse.

Alcohol-dependence medications such as Naltrexone (oral and injectable), Acamprosate, and Disulfiram.

Behavioural Treatments:-

He is also known as alcohol counselling or talk therapy, provided by licensed therapists.

-Aim to change drinking behaviours.

-Include interventions like motivation enhancement and mindfulness-based therapies.

Mutual-Support Groups:-

Provide peer support for stopping or reducing drinking.

-Available widely, including online.

-Low or no cost.

-Can complement medications and behavioural treatments.

Medical Support for Withdrawal:-

Necessary for individuals with severe AUD to safely manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

-Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening.

-Alcohol dependence medications can be prescribed to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Conclusion

Statistics indicate that alcohol use disorder affects many people around the globe, leading to health risks, social and economic loss, and even death. Most people who succumb to AUD lack awareness of alcohol consumption. So, bringing awareness of the problem can help prevent the problem in the early stages. Organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous have done pioneering work in this direction, while many such support groups continue to evolve.

Living a goal-oriented life, practicing gratitude, pursuing healthy habits, and being among supporting family are some of the things that can have a huge impact on an individual's drinking habits

Written By: Naresh Kumar

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