Alcohol Use Disorder :Treatment, Risks & Causes

Today’s article is all about Alcoholism. Its known by many terms like alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Nowadays its referred to as alcohol use disorder.


It happens when a person drinks so much that their body sooner or later becomes dependent on or addicted to alcohol. When that occurs alcohol is the most important thing in your life. People with this disorder , will continue to drink even though it results in negative consequences, like losing a job or destroying their relationships. They know their alcohol use affects their lives & it’s often not enough to make them stop drinking. Alcohol abuse is referred as drinking alcohol too much & causing problems, but they’re not physically dependent on alcohol.

Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder :

Alcohol use disorder can be classified as mild, moderate or severe and it is based on the number of symptoms the person experiences . Signs and symptoms are as follows :

  1. drinking alone
  2. drinking more to feel effects of alcohol (have a high tolerance)
  3. Becoming angry when questioned about their drinking habits
  4. not eating at all / eating poorly
  5. neglecting personal hygiene
  6. missing work or school because of drinking
  7. being unable to control alcohol intake
  8. making excuses to drink
  9. continuing to drink even when legal, social, or economic problems develop
  10. giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of alcohol use

People with alcohol use disorder may also experience the following physical symptoms:

  1. alcohol cravings
  2. withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, including shaking, nausea, and vomiting
  3. tremors (involuntary shaking) the morning after drinking
  4. lapses in memory (blacking out) after a night of drinking
  5. illnesses, such as alcoholic ketoacidosis (includes dehydration-type symptoms)
Alcohol use disorder can include periods of alcohol intoxication and symptoms of withdrawal.

  1. Alcohol intoxication is the aftermath as amount of alcohol in bloodstream increases. The higher the blood alcohol concentration the more debilitate one becomes . It causes behavior problems and mental changes. These may include inappropriate behavior, unstable moods, impaired judgment, slurred speech, impaired attention or memory, and poor coordination. One can also experience “blackouts,” where they don’t remember events. Very high blood alcohol levels can lead to coma or even death.
  2. Alcohol withdrawal can happen when alcohol use has been heavy for a prolonged period of time and is then stopped. Occurs within several hours to four or five days later. Signs and symptoms: sweating, rapid heartbeat, hand tremors, problems sleeping, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, restlessness and agitation, anxiety, and occasionally seizures. Symptoms can be severe enough to impair function at work or in social situations.

Causes of Alcohol use disorder:

Cause of alcohol use disorder is unknown. Develops when a person drinks so much that chemical changes in the brain occur. These changes increase the pleasurable feelings one gets when you drink alcohol. This makes them to drink more often even if its harmful. Eventually pleasurable feelings that comes with alcohol use goes away and the person with alcohol use disorder will engage in drinking to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can be quite unpleasant and dangerous.
“This disorder develops gradually over time & known to run in families”

Diagnosis of Alcohol Use Disorder:

A doctor or healthcare provider can diagnose this disorder. They’ll do a physical exam and ask questions about one’s drinking habits.
The doctor might ask the following questions :

  1. drive when drunk
  2. have missed work or have lost a job as a result of drinking
  3. need more alcohol to feel “drunk” when you drink
  4. have experienced blackouts as a result of drinking
  5. have tried to cut back on your drinking but couldn’t
The doctor may also use a questionnaire that assesses alcohol use disorder to help diagnose the condition. If one shows signs or symptoms of liver disease, the doctor may request a blood work to check for liver function. This disorder causes lasting damage which are likely serious to one’s liver. Liver is removes toxins from blood & when a person drinks too much, their liver has a harder time filtering alcohol and other toxins from bloodstream. This results in liver disease and other complications.

Risk factors of Alcohol Use Disorder:

Alcohol use disorder occurs more often for those in the 20s and 30s although it can start at any age.Steady drinking over time: Drinking too much on a regular basis for an extended period leads to alcohol use disorder.
Starting at an early age: Ones who begin drinking early especially binge drinking are at a higher risk of alcohol use disorder.
Family history: The risk is higher for people who have a parent or close relative who has problems with alcohol : as this may be influenced by genetic factors.
Depression and other mental health problems: It’s common for people with a mental health disorder like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder to have problems with alcohol or other substances.
History of trauma: People with a history of emotional or other trauma are at the most risk.
Having bariatric surgery ( weight-loss surgery ): A few research studies indicate that having this surgery may increase the risk of developing alcohol use disorder or of relapsing after recovering from alcohol use disorder.
Social and cultural factors: Having friends or a partner who drinks regularly increases risk . The colorful way drinking is sometimes portrayed in media may send the message that it’s OK to drink too much. For young people, the influence of parents, peers and other role models can impact risk.

Treatment for alcohol use disorder:

This includes a variety of treatment plans for alcohol use disorder but on the whole each method is there to help curb drinking completely . This is called abstinence.
Treatment may occur in stages and includes the following:

  1. detoxification / withdrawal – to rid body of alcohol
  2. Rehabilitation – to learn new coping skills and behaviors
  3. Counseling – to address emotional problems that may cause you to drink
  4. support groups – including 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  5. medical treatment – for health problems associated with alcohol use disorder
  6. Medications – to help control addiction

There are many medications that help with alcohol use disorder :

Naltrexone (ReVia) – used after someone has detoxed from alcohol. This type drug works by blocking certain receptors in the brain that are associated with the alcoholic “high.” This drug, along with counseling, may help decrease a person’s craving for alcohol.
Acamprosate – medication helps re-establish the brain’s original chemical state before alcohol dependence. This drug should also be combined with therapy.
Disulfiram (Antabuse) is a drug that causes physical discomfort (such as nausea, vomiting, and headaches) any time the person consumes alcohol.

A person with severeaddiction to alcohol needs to seek treatment at an inpatient facility . These facilities will provide 24-hour care as the person withdraws from alcohol and recover from addiction. They need to continue to receive treatment on an outpatient basis even if they’re well enough to leave .

Complications of Alcohol Use Disorder :

Alcohol depresses central nervous system & in someinitial reaction may be stimulation. But as they continue to drink they become sedated. Too much alcohol affects speech, muscle coordination and vital centers of brain. Heavy drinking may cause a life-threatening coma or death. This is of particular concern when they‘re taking certain medications that also depress the brain’s function.

Impact on your life :

Excessive drinking can reduce judgment skills and lower inhibitions, leading to poor choices and dangerous situations or behaviors, including:

  1. Motor vehicle accidents and other types of accidental injury (drowning,etc,)
  2. Relationship problems
  3. Poor performance at work or school
  4. Increased likelihood of committing violent crimes or being the victim of a crime
  5. Legal problems or problems with employment or finances
  6. Problems with other substance use
  7. Engaging in risky, unprotected sex, or experiencing sexual abuse or date rape
  8. Increased risk of attempted or completed suicide

Impact on health:

Health problems caused by excessive alcohol intake are given below 

Excessive alcohol intake results in –

  1. Liver disease : increased fat in liver (hepatic steatosis), inflammation of the liver (alcoholic hepatitis), and irreversible destruction and scarring of liver tissue (cirrhosis).
  2. Digestive problems : inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis), stomach and esophageal ulcers. It also interferes with absorption of B vitamins and other nutrients. Damage pancreas or inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
  3. Heart problems : high blood pressure and increases risk of an enlarged heart, heart failure or stroke. Even a single binge can cause a serious heart arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation.
  4. Diabetes complications : Alcohol interferes with the release of glucose from liver and can increase the risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). This is dangerous if the person have diabetes and are already taking insulin to lower blood sugar level.
  5. Sexual function and menstruation issues : erectile dysfunction in men. In women, it can interrupt menstruation
  6. Eye problems : Over time this can cause involuntary rapid eye movement (nystagmus) as well as weakness and paralysis of your eye muscles due to a deficiency of vitamin B-1 (thiamin). A thiamin deficiency can also be associated with other brain changes, such as irreversible dementia, if not promptly treated.
  7. Birth defects : during pregnancy causes miscarriage. It may also cause fetal alcohol syndrome, resulting in giving birth to a child who has physical and developmental problems that last a lifetime.
  8. Bone damage : interferes with production of new bone. This bone loss can lead to thinning bones (osteoporosis) and an increased risk of fractures. Also damage bone marrow, which makes blood cells. This can cause a low platelet count, which may result in bruising and bleeding.
  9. Neurological complications : affects nervous system, causing numbness and pain in hands and feet, disordered thinking, dementia, and short-term memory loss.
  10. Weakened immune system : makes it harder for the body to resist disease, increasing risk of various illnesses, especially pneumonia.
  11. Increased risk of cancer : Long-term use has been linked to a higher risk of many cancers, including mouth, throat, liver, esophagus, colon and breast cancers. Even moderate drinking can increase the risk of breast cancer.
  12. Medication and alcohol interactions : Some medications interact with alcohol, increasing its toxic effects. Drinking while taking these medications can either increase or decrease their effectiveness & make them dangerous.

Prevention of Alcohol Use Disorder:

Early intervention prevents alcohol-related problems in teens. If you have a teenager, be alert to signs and symptoms they are :

  1. Loss of interest in activities and hobbies and in personal appearance
  2. Red eyes, slurred speech, problems with coordination and memory lapses
  3. Difficulties or changes in relationships with friends, such as joining a new crowd
  4. Declining grades and problems in school
  5. Frequent mood changes and defensive behavior.

You can help prevent teenage alcohol use :

  1. Set a good example with your own alcohol use.
  2. Talk openly with your child, spend quality time together and become actively involved in your child’s life.
  3. Let your child know what behavior you expect – and what the consequences will be if he or she doesn’t follow the rules.

Points to note :
If you or your loved ones are suffering from this help them as best as you can by saying the harmful effects . If you are suffering from this disorder and you need help to come out of it , seek help and get over this with your loved ones support . Whenever you go to physician make sure to mention about this habit , don’t worry they will not judge you : instead them knowing that helps with proper treatment for you. 


           We saw all the how adverse are the risks of this disorder . Prolonged usage of alcohol results in life threatening medical conditions and even death . If we or our loved ones ever start to see signs of this disorder lets ask the above question . If you notice the starting signs do get treated as they say ‘ the sooner the better’ . We believe this article widened your knowledge on alcohol use disorder treatment , causes and the baneful risks . 

Thankyou For Reading

Be Strong Be Safe 

May God Bless You All


Subin Joshua
Author: Hi there, my name is Subin Joshua, and I am a Medical student. I grew up in a family of teachers and know that being a social worker is my calling. My passion for helping others has been evident in my involvement in helping the poor and needy for the last three years. Through those experiences, I have learned to interact with a diverse group of people, which has increased my ability to relate to others.