Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol Use Disorder

As described earlier, alcohol dependence is usually characterized by tolerance and withdrawal. Everyone who drinks even nonalcoholics develops tolerance to alcohol after repeated use. When alcoholics stop drinking or cut

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) A characteristic TERMS group of birth defects caused by excessive alcohol consumption by the mother, including facial deformities, heart defects, and physical and mental impairments.

Alcohol misuse The use of alcohol to a degree that causes physical damage, impairs functioning, or results in behavior harmful to others.

Alcohol use disorder A chronic psychological disorder characterized by excessive and compulsive drinking, and measured as mild, moderate, or severe.

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Alcohol addiction A pathological use of alcohol, or impairment in functioning due to alcohol; characterized by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms (previously called alcoholism).

Binge drinking Periodically drinking alcohol to the point of severe intoxication.

Their intake significantly, they have withdrawal symptoms, which can range from unpleasant to serious and even life-threatening distress. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include trembling hands (shakes, or jitters), a rapid pulse and breathing rate, insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, and gastrointestinal upset. Less common are seizures and the severe reaction known as the DTs (delirium tremens), characterized by confusion and vivid, usually unpleasant, hallucinations.

Some alcoholics recover without professional help, but the majority do not. Treatment is difficult. However, many different kinds of programs exist, including those that emphasize group and buddy support, those that stress lifestyle management, and those that use drugs and chemical substitutes as therapy. Although not all alcoholics can be treated successfully, considerable optimism has replaced the older view that nothing can be done.

Drinking and Responsibility

The responsible use of alcohol means drinking in a way that keeps your BAC low and your behavior under control. See the box “Drinking Behavior and Responsibility” for specific suggestions.

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