What Are the Criteria for Alcoholism?

What Are the Criteria for Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is chronic disease that is diagnosed by several criteria. According to the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual’s fourth edition, to be diagnosed with alcoholism someone must exhibit 2 or more of the following problems:

  • Consuming alcohol in larger quantities than intended
  • Having the persistent desire to drink alcohol, or having unsuccessful attempts to cut back alcohol consumption
  • Having cravings or strong desires to drink alcohol
  • Being preoccupied with using, obtaining or recovering from the effects of alcohol
  • Failing to fulfill obligations and responsibilities at work, school or home due to alcohol use
  • Having to change social, occupational or recreational activities because of alcohol use
  • Using alcohol in physically hazardous circumstances
  • Continuing to use alcohol despite persistent or recurrent alcohol-related problems
  • Building a tolerance to alcohol, and having to increase the amount consumed to achieve desired effects
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms—tremors, anxiety, nausea and/or vomiting, headache, insomnia, sweating, increased heart rate, irritability and confusion—when someone goes long enough with a drink

Physical dependence upon alcohol requires that an individual experience the following criteria for a period of over one year:

  • Tolerance
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Drinking more alcohol than intended
  • Preoccupation with alcohol and activities that support drinking
  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut back or quit drinking
  • Continuing to drink despite negative consequences
  • Impaired social or occupational actives to due alcohol

Seek professional help if you notice that you or a loved one struggles with any of the aforementioned issues. It is unwise to address alcoholism without help, so seek help to get and stay clean.

How Do You Know When Alcohol Use Becomes a Problem?

When it comes to diagnosing alcoholism or alcohol dependence, clinical professionals must look for individuals who meet these criteria. However, if someone falls short of the criteria listed above then that does not mean she does not have a problem with alcohol abuse. Technically, binge drinking and alcohol abuse are not criteria for alcohol dependence or addiction, but they are still extremely dangerous behaviors. In fact, many experts believe that binge drinkers are at even higher risk for danger than alcoholics are.

Friends and family often approach a loved one who is abusing alcohol, but that individual will usually make excuses or minimize his drinking problem. He will state that he is not an alcoholic, and that he does not fit the bill for the disease; i.e., he may not experience withdrawal symptoms, or he may still find time to engage in normal social, recreational or occupational activities. Parents, friends and other loved ones must not be persuaded by these excuses or justifications of alcohol abuse or binge drinking.

Should Someone Seek Help for Binge Drinking or Alcohol Abuse?

There are serious repercussions of binge drinking, and alcohol abuse is more often than not a predecessor of alcohol dependence or alcoholism. Individuals who abuse alcohol to cope with problems are far more likely to adapt to this behavior if it is persistent. If someone continues abusing alcohol to find joy and pleasure, then she can eventually develop the need to drink to achieve this feeling. If someone continually uses alcohol to cope with stress, anxiety or other emotional distress, then she will identify alcohol as the solution to these issues whenever they arise. Lastly, aside from the risk of alcoholism and dependence, alcohol abuse and binge drinking increase the risk for accidents, injury, health problems, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, financial complications, legal and occupational consequences, unplanned pregnancy and more.

In conclusion, alcoholism is a serious disease that requires professional treatment. Alcohol abuse and binge drinking are detrimental behaviors that can cause both short and long-term consequences, so treating these behaviors as soon as possible is vital for the individual’s future.

How Do You Treat Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism?

If you would like to learn more about alcohol abuse, alcoholism and treatment options, then call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline now. Our admissions coordinators can answer your questions, address your concerns and provide all the informant you need on alcohol-related issues. If you are looking for treatment and recovery services, then our staff can connect you with the options that are right for you and your unique circumstances. For help, call and chat with an addiction counselor today.