It may not be easy for you to accept the fact that you need help for an alcohol problem. Keep in mind that the sooner you get help, the better your chances are for a successful recovery.
You may have concerns about discussing drinking-related problems with your doctor. This may stem from common misconceptions about alcoholism and people who have alcoholism. In our society, some people may perceive alcohol problems as a sign of moral weakness. As a result, you may feel that to seek help is to admit some type of shameful defect in yourself. However, taking steps to identify a possible drinking problem has an enormous payoff: a chance for a healthier, more rewarding life.
A diagnosis of AUD is often based on an initial assessment, physical examination, and psychological evaluation.
Your doctor will ask you a number of questions about your alcohol use to determine whether you are having problems related to your drinking. Try to answer these questions as fully and honestly as you can. The doctor may ask about:
A physical exam will look for any potential signs of AUD. This can include skin blemishes, involuntary eye movements, or abnormal muscle tone.
Tests may also be done to:
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.
Alcoholism. American Association for Clinical Chemistry Lab Tests Online website. Available at: http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/conditions/alcoholism. Updated April 9, 2013. 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.
Shivani R, Goldsmith RJ, et al. Alcoholism and psychiatric disorders: Diagnostic challenges. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-2/90-98.htm. Accessed April 9, 2015.
Last reviewed February 2014 by Peter J. Lucas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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