Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
AUD can affect people of all ages including adolescents. Symptoms are different for everyone, though common threads exist. These include:
- Increase in amount of alcohol that is being consumed to try to reach same effects
- Inability to stop or limit drinking despite associated problems
- Significant amount of time doing activities to obtain or use alcohol
- Craving or urge to use alcohol
- Repeated home, school, or work problems
- Difficulty in relationships with family members, friends, and coworkers
- Missing previously favored activities in order to drink alcohol or recover from alcohol
- Alcohol use even if it creates physically unsafe situations or leads to legal trouble
- Alcohol use that continues even when it causes or worsens health problems
Dependence may also cause physical symptoms (withdrawal) when alcohol is stopped. Withdrawal may cause:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lack of appetite
Seizures that may result from delirium tremens (DTs)
Complications Associated with AUD
Complications of AUD cover a wide range of personal, family, social, and health problems, such as:
- Accidents and injury—including motor vehicle accidents and falls
- Violence, murder, and suicide
- Domestic violence
- Family problems
- Failed relationships
- Lost jobs
- Problems with the law, including drunk driving arrests and jail time
Some common physical problems associated with AUD include:
- Red palms, flushed face
- Spidery veins showing through the skin around the umbilicus and on the face
- Rapid heart rate
Yellowing of the whites of the eyes and/or skin—jaundice, which indicates liver problems
- Enlarged liver and/or spleen
- Easy bruising and/or bleeding
Peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage, which can cause muscle weakness, numbness, or tingling
- Impaired memory and cognitive function
- Infertility in both men and women
- Increased susceptibility to infections and cancer
|Organs That Can Be Damaged by Alcoholism
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Medical complications include:
- Nutritional deficiencies
cancers, especially of the
Acute and chronic pancreatitis
Liver damage, which can occur with hepatitis
Gastrointestinal problems, such as bleeding,
ulcers, and inflammation of the esophagus
- Heart and circulatory problems, including arrhythmias
- Mental health problems, including
High blood pressure, which can lead to a hemorrhagic stroke
acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
- Neurological problems and brain damage (with long-term use)
- Postoperative complications, including infections, bleeding, and delayed healing
Fetal alcohol syndrome
(in the babies of women who drank during pregnancy)
- Early death
Alcohol use disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 25, 2015. Accessed April 9, 2015.
Alcohol withdrawal. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 19, 2014. Accessed April 9, 2015.
Alcohol's effects on the body. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: http://niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body. Accessed April 9, 2015.
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse. HelpGuide website. Available at: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/addiction/alcoholism-and-alcohol-abuse.htm. Updated February 2015. Accessed April 9, 2015.
American Psychiatric Association.
Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-5. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
3/5/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Tramacere I, Scotti L, et al. Alcohol drinking and pancreatic cancer risk: A meta-analysis of the dose-risk relation.
Int J Cancer. 2010;126(6):1474-1486.