• 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:
    • Shaking
    • Rapid pulse
    • Sweating
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Lack of appetite
    • Anxiety and agitation
    • Hallucinations
    • Disorientation
    • 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
    • Nausea, bloating, indigestion, and ulcers
    • Pancreatitis
    • 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
    • Sexual dysfunction
    • Increased susceptibility to infections and cancer
    Organs That Can Be Damaged by Alcoholism
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
    Medical complications include:


    Alcohol use disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115540/Alcohol-use-disorder. Updated October 23, 2015. Accessed September 30, 2016.

    Alcohol withdrawal syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114807/Alcohol-withdrawal-syndrome. Updated April 29, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.

    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. Help Guide 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 Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115540/Alcohol-use-disorder: 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.

    Revision Information

    • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
    • Review Date: 03/2017
    • Update Date: 04/09/2015
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