Causes and symptoms of alcohol use disorder – a review

Alcohol use disorder (sometimes called alcoholism) is a pattern of drinking that involves problems controlling drinking, persistent involvement with alcohol, continuing to drink despite causing problems, drinking more to get the same effect, or developing symptoms. Withdrawal when drinking is reduced or quickly stopped.

Unhealthy use of alcohol includes any consumption that endangers a person's health or safety or causes other alcohol-related problems. This includes binge drinking, a drinking pattern in which a man consumes five or more drinks within two hours, or a woman consumes at least four drinks within two hours. Binge drinking poses significant health and safety risks.

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If drinking frequently results in severe distress and problems functioning in everyday life, the person may have an alcohol use disorder. It can range from mild to severe disturbance. However, even a small disorder can be very serious and lead to serious problems, so early treatment is very important.


Alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how many symptoms you have. Signs and symptoms may include:

– Inability to control the amount of alcohol you drink

– Wanting to cut down on your drinking, or unsuccessful attempts to do so

– Spending too much time drinking alcohol, receiving it, or recovering from the effects of consuming it

– Strong craving or longing for alcoholic beverages

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– Failure to fulfill work, school or household obligations due to frequent drinking
Continued drinking of alcohol despite causing physical, social or personal problems
Reluctance to engage in or reduce social activities, work activities, or hobbies
Drinking alcohol in unsafe situations such as driving or swimming

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– Get used to alcohol and need to drink more to feel its effects, or feel less of an effect after drinking the same amount.

– To avoid these symptoms you do not drink alcoholic beverages or you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating and tremors if you drink alcohol.

Alcohol use disorder may include periods of heavy drinking or withdrawal symptoms.

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Alcohol poisoning is caused by too much alcohol in the bloodstream. The higher the blood alcohol concentration, the more impaired you will be. Alcohol poisoning causes behavioral problems and mental status changes. These problems include inappropriate behavior, mood swings, poor judgment, slurred speech, poor attention or memory, and motor coordination. You may also experience periods where you don't remember events, called “mindlessness.” Severely high blood alcohol levels can lead to coma or even death.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can occur when you have been drinking alcohol regularly for a long time and then stop or cut down significantly. This can happen after a period of several hours to four or five days. Signs and symptoms include sweating, rapid heartbeat, hand tremors, difficulty sleeping, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, restlessness, agitation and anxiety, and occasional seizures. Symptoms can be so severe that they affect your ability to function at work or behave in social situations.

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Genetic, psychological, social, and environmental factors can influence the effect that alcohol consumption has on your body and behavior. Theories suggest that alcohol consumption has a different, more powerful effect on some people, leading to alcohol use disorder.

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Over time, heavy drinking can alter the normal functioning of areas of the brain associated with the experience of pleasure, judgment, and the ability to control behavior. This can lead to drinking alcohol in an attempt to restore good feelings or reduce negative feelings.

risk factors

Alcoholism can start in the teens, but alcohol use disorder is more common in the twenties and thirties, although it can start at any age.

– Continued drinking over time. Long-term or continuous drinking can lead to alcohol-related problems or alcohol use disorder.

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– Starting at an early age. People who start drinking at a young age — especially heavy drinkers — are at increased risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

– Social and cultural factors. Having friends or an intimate partner who drinks frequently can increase your risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Glamourous drinking, sometimes portrayed in the media, can also send the message that heavy drinking is okay. For youth, the influence of parents, peers, and other general roles can influence risk.

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