To be diagnosed with AUD, individuals must meet certain criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Under DSM–5, the current version of the DSM, anyone meeting any two of the 11 criteria during the same 12-month period receives a diagnosis of AUD. The severity of AUD—mild, moderate, or severe—is based on the number of criteria met.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) for 2015 found that 86.4 percent of the population ages 18 and older consumed alcohol at some point in their lives; about 56 percent reported that they drank in the past month, indicating a pattern of regular alcohol consumption. Alcohol is legal in the US for people ages 21 and older to consume, but as an intoxicating substance, it is dangerous and can lead to addiction. The NSDUH also found that 26.9 percent of the population engaged in binge drinking in the past month (more than four drinks within two hours), and 7 percent reported that they drank heavily in the past month (more than two drinks per day). These behaviors indicate higher risk for AUD.
As defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), addiction is a disease that disrupts brain chemistry and circuitry, which in turn impacts willpower, reward, memory, and motivation. The first step calls for individuals to accept that they are unable to control their drinking and/or drug use and that their willpower and motivation have been compromised. When someone struggles with addiction, they are no longer able to manage how much and how often drugs and/or alcohol are abused. Recognition of this loss of control and admission of being powerless over addiction is the first step toward recovery.
Not all alcohol abusers become full-blown alcoholics, but it is a big risk factor. Sometimes alcoholism develops suddenly in response to a stressful change, such as a breakup, retirement, or another loss. Other times, it gradually creeps up on you as your tolerance to alcohol increases. If you’re a binge drinker or you drink every day, the risks of developing alcoholism are greater.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
When an individual has been struggling through an addiction, it is usually not simply the substance abuser who needs support. Family members' lives are often closely connected with, and deeply affected by, the loved one who has been abusing a substance. Thankfully, there are also support groups to help carry these loved ones through the difficult times and questions that may arise in these circumstances.
The diagnosis of an alcohol problem is best made by the history. Screening instruments for alcohol problems include the CAGE ([need to] cut down [on drinking], annoyance, guilt [about drinking], [need for] eye-opener) questionnaire and the AUDIT (alcohol use disorders identification test). The CAGE questions should be given face-to-face, whereas AUDIT can be given as a paper-and-pencil test.
Treatments are varied because there are multiple perspectives of alcoholism. Those who approach alcoholism as a medical condition or disease recommend differing treatments from, for instance, those who approach the condition as one of social choice. Most treatments focus on helping people discontinue their alcohol intake, followed up with life training and/or social support to help them resist a return to alcohol use. Since alcoholism involves multiple factors which encourage a person to continue drinking, they must all be addressed to successfully prevent a relapse. An example of this kind of treatment is detoxification followed by a combination of supportive therapy, attendance at self-help groups, and ongoing development of coping mechanisms. The treatment community for alcoholism typically supports an abstinence-based zero tolerance approach; however, some prefer a harm-reduction approach.
But Twelve-Step Facilitation therapy is still a tried-and-true proven approach. It is far more than advising a patient to “go to AA” and providing them a list of meeting locations and times. In Twelve-Step Faciliation, the therapist actively probes and nudges, encouraging not only attendance, but participation, in meetings; it explains the potential benefits of working with a sponsor and promotes the individual developing a relationship with a sponsor; it explores problems or psychological resistances to attendance, participation, actual “working the steps,” and the development of a sponsor-sponsee relationship; and it opens the door to “AA-related activities” such as volunteer service to one’s AA “home group” or AA “clubhouse” and involvement with AA-related social events, retreats, and local and state conventions.
The risk of developing alcoholism has a definite genetic component. Studies have demonstrated that close relatives of people with alcoholism are more likely to become alcoholics themselves. This risk exists even for children adopted away from their biological families at birth and raised in a non-alcoholic adoptive family with no knowledge of their biological family's alcohol use. However, no specific gene for alcoholism has been found, and environmental factors (e.g., stress) and social factors (e.g., peer behavior) are thought to play a role in whether a person becomes alcohol dependent.
Teenagers who consume alcohol excessively have been found to be at risk for abnormal organ development as the possible result of the hormonal abnormalities caused by alcohol. This is particularly a risk to their developing reproductive system. Just a few of the other many dangerous effects of alcohol abuse and alcoholism in teenagers include the following:
Jump up ^ Morse, RM; Flavin, DK (August 1992). "The definition of alcoholism. The Joint Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the American Society of Addiction Medicine to Study the Definition and Criteria for the Diagnosis of Alcoholism". JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 268 (8): 1012–4. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490080086030. ISSN 0098-7484. PMID 1501306.
AA meetings are "quasi-ritualized therapeutic sessions run by and for, alcoholics". They are usually informal and often feature discussions. Local AA directories list a variety of weekly meetings. Those listed as "closed" are available to those with a self professed "desire to stop drinking," which cannot be challenged by another member on any grounds. "Open" meetings are available to anyone (nonalcoholics can attend as observers). At speaker meetings, one or two members tell their stories, while discussion meetings allocate the most time for general discussion. Some meetings are devoted to studying and discussing the AA literature.
Average member sobriety is slightly under 10 years with 36% sober more than ten years, 13% sober from five to ten years, 24% sober from one to five years, and 27% sober less than one year. Before coming to AA, 63% of members received some type of treatment or counseling, such as medical, psychological, or spiritual. After coming to AA, 59% received outside treatment or counseling. Of those members, 84% said that outside help played an important part in their recovery.
While both alcohol abuse and alcoholism are included in the alcohol use disorder diagnosis and involve engaging in maladaptive behaviors in the use of alcohol, abuse of this substance does not include the person having withdrawal symptoms or needing more and more amounts to achieve intoxication (tolerance) unless the person has developed alcoholism.
Detoxification begins 4–6 hours after the last consumption of alcohol and lasts for 5–7 days. In this period, diazepam is administered every six hours to control the detoxification process and withdrawal symptoms. While detoxification often occurs in hospitals, some people undergo detoxification in their homes. However, patients should not consider undergoing detoxification at home if they have suicidal feelings, do not have friends and family to support them, or have experienced severe withdrawal symptoms before.
The Steps start from a basic acceptance that we can control and change only ourselves and our own reactions to people and events. Twelve Step participants take ongoing inventory of themselves and honestly acknowledge the ways they have hurt themselves and others. When they are ready, they attempt to make amends to all persons they have harmed. Trust, acceptance, love, goodwill and forgiveness are key elements in a Twelve Step program just as they are important elements of any healthy relationship.
As an addiction professional who has worked in the field for 21 years I would be negligent in my duties if I did not inform my clients about the availability of AA as a potential avenue for recovery. I also let them know of other options such as SMART, rational recovery, etc. They invariable return to me saying "all I can find around town is AA". I encourage them to use what is available if they choose to do so. I educate them about the program of AA, the fellowship (which is not the program) and what AA's official stance is on medications (there is none other than it's between the alcoholic and their doctor). I educate and encourage them on all of these things so they are not at the mercy of any uninformed alcoholic in AA.
In 1955, Wilson acknowledged AA's debt, saying "The Oxford Groupers had clearly shown us what to do. And just as importantly, we learned from them what not to do." Among the Oxford Group practices that AA retained were informal gatherings, a "changed-life" developed through "stages", and working with others for no material gain, AA's analogs for these are meetings, "the steps", and sponsorship. AA's tradition of anonymity was a reaction to the publicity-seeking practices of the Oxford Group, as well as AA's wish to not promote, Wilson said, "erratic public characters who through broken anonymity might get drunk and destroy confidence in us."
Thank you dr Miller, very important part of recovery of addiction and important tool for our patients that should not be "a dying art". I have heard international lecturer and professional in addiction treatment, state that "Minnesota Model" is one treatment that has been shown ineffective (evidence based medicine... Many correlate that with Twelve step facilitation. Can you help with references to support or counteract that?
If you have said to yourself: “Yes, I'm one of those people who are powerless over alcohol. My life has become unmanageable. I can't stop drinking and I want help”, you have made a good start on Step One and discovered, as it says in the Big Book, “We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.”
There are few medications that are considered effective in treating moderate to severe alcohol use disorder. Naltrexone (Trexan, Revia, or Vivitrol) has been found effective in managing this illness. It is the most frequently used medication in treating alcohol use disorder . It decreases the alcoholic's cravings for alcohol by blocking the body's euphoric ("high") response to it. Naltrexone is either taken by mouth on a daily basis or through monthly injections. Disulfiram (Antabuse) is prescribed for about 9% of alcoholics. It decreases the alcoholic's craving for the substance by producing a negative reaction to drinking. Acamprosate (Campral) works by decreasing cravings for alcohol in those who have stopped drinking. Ondansetron (Zofran) has been found to be effective in treating alcohol use disorder in people whose problem drinking began before they were 25 years old. None of these medications have been specifically approved to treat alcoholism in people less than 18 years of age. Baclofen (Lioresal) has been found to be a potentially effective treatment to decrease alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Some research indicates that psychiatric medications like lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid) and sertraline (Zoloft) may be useful in decreasing alcohol use in people who have another mental health disorder in addition to alcohol use disorder.
Within the medical and scientific communities, there is a broad consensus regarding alcoholism as a disease state. For example, the American Medical Association considers alcohol a drug and states that "drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite often devastating consequences. It results from a complex interplay of biological vulnerability, environmental exposure, and developmental factors (e.g., stage of brain maturity)." Alcoholism has a higher prevalence among men, though, in recent decades, the proportion of female alcoholics has increased. Current evidence indicates that in both men and women, alcoholism is 50–60 percent genetically determined, leaving 40–50 percent for environmental influences. Most alcoholics develop alcoholism during adolescence or young adulthood. 31 percent of college students show signs of alcohol abuse, while six percent are dependent on alcohol. Under the DSM's new definition of alcoholics, that means about 37 percent of college students may meet the criteria.
Traditional addiction treatment in America is derived from multidisciplinary treatment of chronic mental disease and the peer-support program of Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in 1935 by two middle-aged men who leaned on each other for hope, and described in the eponymous book published in 1939. Its subtitle indicates it is a how-to description of the path of recovery. It describes twelve steps in the process of recovery outlined by the authors. One of the evidence-based practices of modern addiction treatment, as outlined by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices, is Twelve Step Facilitation Therapy.
Tell your loved one that you’re worried they’re drinking too much, and let them know you want to be supportive. Be prepared to face a negative reaction. Try to roll with any resistance to your suggestions. The person may be in denial, and they may even react angrily to your attempts. Do not take it personally. Give them time and space to make an honest decision, and listen to what they have to say.