Alcoholism information & treatment centers. Alcohol Use Disorder Background - Alcohol Use Disorder Health Information - NY Times Health

In-Depth From A.D.A.M. Background

Alcohol use disorders refer to excessive drinking behaviors that can create dangerous conditions for an individual and others. Alcohol use disorders are generally categorized as: Alcoholism information.

Alcohol Abuse. Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that results in adverse outcomes such as:

Failure to fulfill work or personal obligations

Recurrent use of alcohol in potentially dangerous situations

Continued use in spite of harm being done to social or personal relationships

Alcohol use can lead to alcohol dependence (alcoholism).

Alcohol Dependence (Alcoholism). Alcohol dependence is the medical term for alcoholism. Alcohol dependence is characterized by:

Increased amounts of alcohol are needed to produce an effect (tolerance)

Withdrawal symptoms (nausea, sweating, irritability, tremors, hallucinations, and seizures) develop when drinking is stopped or reduced

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Constant craving for alcohol and inability to limit drinking

Continuing to drink in spite of the knowledge of its physical or psychological harm to oneself or others

Levels of Drinking

A person is affected by the amount of alcohol consumed, not the type. Beer and wine are not “,safer”, than hard liquor, they simply contain less alcohol per ounce.

The following drinking categories use a definition of “,one drink”, as 12 ounces of beer, 8 - 9 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces (a jigger or shot) of 80-proof liquor. Therefore, 12 ounces of beer is equivalent to 5 ounces of wine, or a 1.5 ounce short of hard liquor.

Moderate Drinking. Moderate drinking, particularly red wine, may possibly decrease the risk of heart disease when it is part of other heart-healthy behaviors. However, even moderate levels of drinking should be avoided in certain circumstances, such as before driving a vehicle, during pregnancy, when taking medications that may interact with alcohol, or if you have a medical condition that may be worsened by drinking.

Moderate drinking is defined as:

No more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.

Low-Risk Drinking. Low-risk drinking is defined as:

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No more than 4 drinks a day, or 14 drinks per week, for men

No more than 3 drinks per day, or 7 drinks per week, for women (both men and women over age 65 are advised not to drink more than this amount)

At-Risk (Heavy) Drinking. At-risk (heavy) drinking is defined as:

More than 14 drinks per week, or four drinks in a day, for men

More than seven drinks per week, or three drinks a day, for women

Risk Level Assessment. According to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), people who consume alcohol are considered:

At low risk for alcohol-related problems if they always drink within low-risk limits

At increased risk if they drink more than either the single-day limits or the weekly limits

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At highest risk if they drink more than both the single-day limits and the weekly limits

Certain people are at much higher risk for harmful effects of alcohol, such as older individuals with high blood pressure or those taking medications for arthritis or pain.

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