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Alcohol Use Disorder Vs Alcoholism: Key Differences

Alcohol use disorder and alcoholism are two terms that are often seen among resources and articles that talk about this issue. However, the two are not necessarily interchangeable.

Overview of Alcohol Use Disorder Vs Alcoholism

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), alcohol use disorder is the combination of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. AUD may be broken down into three severities: mild, moderate, and severe. 

An individual has AUD if they meet 2 out of the 11 criteria which are as follows:

·         Drinking for a longer period of time than intended

·         Inability to cut back alcohol consumption

·         Feeling sick due to excessive drinking

·         Unable to concentrate on tasks due to being distracted by severe alcohol cravings

·         Unable to uphold responsibilities at school, work, or family

·         Continuous consumption of alcohol despite raised concerns from friends and family

·         Social isolation and opting out of activities that used to be important

·         Causing physical harm and danger to oneself due to excessive alcohol consumption

·         Continuous drinking despite of the presence of health issues caused by alcohol

·         Increasing alcohol uptake due to increased tolerance

·         The presence of withdrawal symptoms whenever one stops drinking

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a condition in which a person is severely dependent on alcohol. A person who drinks too much and too frequently is called an alcoholic. You are an alcoholic if you choose to drink despite the negative consequences on your health and safety. According to the Alcoholics Anonymous guide, you are an alcoholic if you want to quit entirely but you are unable to do so.

AUD Vs Alcoholism: Key Differences


Not every person who drinks alcohol has alcohol dependence. Consequently, any alcohol-dependent individual is classified as an alcoholic. Alcohol dependence refers to the body’s physical reliance on the substance. Alcohol-dependent individuals will experience withdrawal symptoms when they lay off of alcohol. These withdrawal symptoms include sweating, insomnia, irritability, and nausea. They will also experience strong cravings for alcohol.


Alcohol abuse is the less severe version of alcohol use disorder. If a person is exhibiting signs of alcohol abuse, then it is pertinent that they get treatment as soon as possible to prevent it from developing into a full-blown disorder. If left unresolved, the patient may develop a higher tolerance, more severe cravings, and eventually have alcohol use disorder.


Alcohol use disorder and alcoholism have different treatment approaches since they differ in terms of severity. It is recommended that patients with either AUD or alcoholism undergo complete detox as the first step. The next steps will be a confluence of medications, behavioral therapy, support groups, and more.

The treatment will be assessed by experts at R&R Recovery. The perfect treatment plan that is proportionate to what the patient needs will be crafted to ensure maximum efficiency. R&R Recovery also offers a safe and peaceful environment that is supportive of healing. Contact us today for more information.

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