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Alcohol-Use Disorders

What are alcohol-use disorders?

Alcohol-use disorders are diagnosed when someone abuses alcohol or becomes dependent upon alcohol. (Note: more information on abuse and addiction is provided below.)

Alcohol abuse is alarmingly common among college students, even though the dangers of excessive drinking are well known.

People with mental health disorders are at greater risk for alcohol-use disorders, and the effects of alcohol can be more damaging among people with mental health disorders.

Below are common symptoms of alcohol abuse and dependence:

  • Alcohol Abuse:
    • Drinking that interferes with obligations at school, home, or work (e.g., absences from class or work, poor grades, academic probation)
    • Being drunk or hung-over in situations where it may be dangerous (e.g., driving, operating machinery)
    • Legal problems as a result of drinking (e.g., arrests for disorderly conduct)
    • Drinking that leads to or exacerbates arguments or fights with friends, housemates, co-workers
  • Alcohol Dependence:
    • Increased tolerance: needing increased amounts of alcohol to get drunk or buzzed
    • Withdrawal symptoms* when cutting down on alcohol (e.g., shakiness, nausea or vomiting, sweating, anxiety, difficulty sleeping)
    • Drinking to avoid having withdrawal symptoms
    • Drinking larger amounts of alcohol or drinking over a longer period of time than originally planned
    • Difficulty cutting back on drinking
    • Spending a great deal of time drinking or being drunk or hung-over
    • Spending less time on school work or recreational activities (e.g., sports) because of drinking
    • Drinking despite knowing that it causes or makes a physical or mental health problem worse

*Note: If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms in early sobriety or cessation of use, it is important to talk directly to a medical professional as some of these symptoms could be life threatening.

Want to learn more about alcohol-use disorders?

Try the following resources:

Are you concerned that you might have an alcohol-use disorder?

Assessment and treatment for alcohol problems is available at the University of Michigan Addiction Treatment Services (UMATS) and the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS)

See our resource database for a list of books, websites, and local options for seeking professional evaluations and treatment.

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