Alcohol Use Disorder is the technical term used to describe what is more commonly known as alcoholism. It is a significant public health issue. In 2014 a study conducted by the National Institute On Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), it was calculated that 16.4 million people in the U.S. suffer from the disorder.
There are a number of factors that have been identified, which can potentially increase a persons likelihood of being diagnosed with the disorder.
For example, underage drinking has been identified as a potential risk factor that increases the likelihood of a positive diagnosis. It potentially normalizes the act of drinking alcohol at a young age, making the child less likely to understand the potential hazards overuse can cause.
Researchers have suggested that there may be a genetic predisposition that increases the likelihood of being diagnosed. Studies have shown that people with parents or grandparents who are alcoholics are over 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with the condition compared to the general population.
However, they have also concluded that genetics are just one part of a much larger picture. A commonly agreed upon theory is that social and environmental factors are likely to play a much more significant role than genetics. The act of living and growing up with someone abusing alcohol seems to be a higher risk factor than the genetics that have been passed on.
Despite this increased risk, the vast majority of people who grow up with parents that have the disorder do not go on to contract it themselves.
In order to diagnose someone with the condition, a doctor must be able to determine if a patient’s drinking patterns are detrimental to their health or wellbeing. This includes both physical harm and mental distress. Some of the symptoms are subtle, and may not be immediately obvious as harmful to a patient. But to a doctor they can be clear warning signs of a potentially escalating situation.
Diagnosis is usually performed by a doctor asking a series of targeted questions pertaining to a patient’s experiences in the past 12 months. Examples of the kinds of questions asked are:
- Have you ever tried more than once to stop drinking or cut down your drinking but found yourself unable to do it?
- Have you (on several occasions) drank significantly more alcohol than you had intended without being able to control it?
- Have you stopped doing other activities that you once enjoyed to spend more time or money on drinking alcohol?
Once the questions have been answered, diagnosis is usually straightforward. Results are provided in terms of severity and are not a binary pass/fail result.
Today’s post comes from Lifehack.