Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders: Alcohol Use Disorder – DSM-5


Alcohol use has never been a topic that lends itself naturally to sober, intellectual discourse. This is hardly surprising, really, given that what’s at stake is nothing less than our lives. Below I am going to mention co-morbidities associated with alcohol use disorder and the criteria of the DSM-5 for the diagnosis of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

AUD is associated with psychotic disorders, bipolar disorders, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, sleep disorders, sexual dysfunctions, delirium, and neurocognitive disorders. The onset of these co-morbidities can be during intoxication and/or withdrawal.

It is worth noting that the word “addiction” is not mentioned in the DSM-5, however, it is in common usage in many countries and disciplines to describe severe problems related to compulsive and habitual use of substances.

The following are the diagnostic criteria for AUD:

A problematic patter of alcohol use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by at least two of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:

1. Alcohol is often taken in large amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.
4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
5. Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
6. Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
8. Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
9. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
a. A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve desired effect.
b. A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
a. The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol.
b. Alcohol is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Stay sober and watch out for the people you love for any signs of alcohol addiction, and most importantly Never Ever Drink and Drive.