11 Criteria for Diagnosing Alcohol Use Disorders

Alcohol Use Disorders

Consuming alcohol is deeply embedded in our culture today. Some people may be able to drink alcohol socially or with minimal impact on their lives. However, some people’s relationship with alcohol can be very complicated.

At SouthLight, we encourage you to assess your relationship with alcohol. Here are some criteria for diagnosing alcohol use disorders.

To be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder you must meet specific criteria in the past year. These criteria come from The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V).

There are 11 different criteria including:

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

  1. Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
    [Do you drink more than you mean to?]
  2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
    [Do you want to stop, but can’t?]
  3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.
    [Is drinking taking over your life?]
  4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
    [If you can’t drink, are you thinking about drinking?]
  5. Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
    [Is your drinking getting in the way of day-to-day activities?]
  6. Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
    [Is drinking getting in the way of your relationships?]
  7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
    [Are you missing out on things because of alcohol?]
  8. Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
    [Are you drinking in risky settings, or doing risky things while drinking?]
  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.
    [Do you know drinking isn’t good for you, but you do it anyway?]
  10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: a need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect, or a markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
    [Do you need to drink more than you used to, to feel an effect?]
  11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol, or alcohol (or a closely related substance, such as a benzodiazepine) is taken to relieve or avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms. [Do you feel ill or off when you stop drinking? Do you experience bad hangovers?]

How Criteria is Measured

For a mild diagnosis, you must meet 2-3 criteria, moderate is 4-5 criteria, and severe is 6 or more criteria. To know for sure if you meet certain criteria, see a professional for an assessment.

Get Help for Alcohol Use

SouthLight has several different programs to treat alcohol use disorder so please reach out if you or anyone you know needs help.
Contact SouthLight