Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) – Where do YOU fit in?

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You are starting to worry about your drinking. You are Googling things like “Am I drinking too much?” “How much is too much drinking?” “Am I an alcoholic?” “Is daily drinking OK/normal/dangerous?”

If you have started to worry about your drinking, chances are that you are indeed drinking too much. If you wake up in the morning with a puffy face and a stuffy head, you probably drank too much last night. If you feel guilty about your drinking, or shameful or ashamed, then yes, it is time to restock and maybe start journalling about your drinking.

Sure, drinking is all around us. Sure, everyone drinks and everyone jokes about their drinking. Sure, all moms drink wine at the end of a long bothersome day. Sure. But it is time to think about our health. Is alcohol a natural substance? Well, I guess it does come from the earth!

According to the USA National Cancer Institute, alcohol is a “chemical substance found in drinks such as beer, wine, and liquor. It is also found in some medicines, mouthwashes, household products, and essential oils … it is made by a chemical process called fermentation that uses sugars and yeast. … Drinking regular or large amounts of alcohol may increase the risk of certain types of cancer, such as cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, breast, liver, colon, and rectum.”

Is that enough information for now?

Well, you could be drinking too much if these thoughts are crossing your mind daily:

  • I think I need to cut down on my drinking.
  • I wonder why my mom/husband/best friend/neighbour keeps commenting on my drinking?
  • Gosh, why did I have that last glass of wine last night?
  • Geez, I feel so groggy and shaky this morning that I think I will just add a shot of whiskey to my coffee and no one will know!

I am going to ask you these questions:

  • Are you drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week where one unit is a small glass of wine? This equates to about a bottle and a half of wine a week. Oh! You mean you drink that every night?!
  • Do you remember that move you made on Friday night when you fell over the carpet? What? You don’t remember?
  • Why did you park your car so far from the house last night?
  • Why did you miss our important Friday work meeting? Oh dear, you forgot?
  • We missed you at the birthday yesterday, where were you? You forgot, oh no!

In a nutshell,

Alcohol misuse is when you drink in a way that’s harmful, or when you’re dependent on alcohol. To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level, both men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week.

Check out this useful website about how to measure the units of alcohol – a unit of alcohol is 8g or 10ml of pure alcohol, which is about:

  • half a pint of lower to normal-strength lager/beer/cider (ABV 3.6%)
  • a single small shot measure (25ml) of spirits (25ml, ABV 40%)

A small glass (125ml, ABV 12%) of wine contains about 1.5 units of alcohol.

Once you have decided to check up on your drinking and discover that you are uncomfortable with the amount you are drinking, you can take action. Luckily, these days there is plenty of information and support out there for all shades of grey. Yes, there are grey areas of drinking, that range from the extreme alcoholic who may die from the drink to the person who can moderate with one glass a month. The grey area drinkers are those people in between on a large sliding scale of drinking a few glasses per week to a few bottles per day! Maybe it is time to change the way you drink and to change your thinking about drinking! We gotcha!

Alcohol Use Disorder – the new Buzzword?

The new buzzword in drinking articles and drinking recovery circles is “Alcohol Use Disorder” (AUD). It sounds awfully serious but is it just a euphemism for “alcoholic”? Let’s unpack that phrase right here and put your minds at ease.

According ot the Mayo Clinic, “Alcohol use disorder is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol or continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems. This disorder also involves having to drink more to get the same effect or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking. Alcohol use disorder includes a level of drinking that’s sometimes called alcoholism.”

Well, that explains it! I am sure many of you reading this right now can relate to some of this, if not all of this. And there is no need to feel ashamed about it. AUD is an unhealthy preoccupation with drinking that can put your health or safety at risk. I mean, I know someone who used to drink all night then awaken on a beach after sunrise, all hot and sweaty with blood pouring down her face and ask herself, “What on earth am I doing here?”

Another strain of AUD is binge drinking which is when people think that they are controlling their drinking and do not drink during the weeks but they drink on the weekends and it is then a lot of drinks in a very short time! I know people who drink nothing in the week, then have a bottle of wine plus half a bottle of whisky on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, all ready for another dry week! Listen to this podcast about binge drinking!

Another way of looking at AUD is to ask yourself those questions as above – is your drinking causing stress or dysfunction in your daily life? Are you making mistakes, dropping balls, forgetting things and getting really grumpy with everyone around you? Be aware of these things before chaos hits your life. Have you been experiencing blackouts?

These are the symptoms of AUD:

  • Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
  • Wanting to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so.
  • Spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol or recovering from alcohol use.
  • Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink alcohol.
  • Failing to fulfil major obligations at work, school or home due to repeated alcohol use.
  • Continuing to drink alcohol even though you know it’s causing physical, social, work or relationship problems.
  • Giving up or reducing social and work activities and hobbies to use alcohol.
  • Using alcohol in situations where it’s not safe, such as when driving or swimming.
  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol so you need more to feel its effect or you have a reduced effect from the same amount.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms — such as nausea, sweating and shaking — when you don’t drink, or drink to avoid these symptoms.

Alcohol use disorder can include periods of being drunk (alcohol intoxication) and symptoms of withdrawal.

So there you are, the truth about drinking – are you a moderator, are you sober curious or do you maybe just drink too much?

Have a look at our blogs and have a listen to our podcasts and learn more about the state of your drinking and what it could be to be sober and happy!


The 11 Year Fact

Did you know that the average dependent drinker will struggle alone for 11 years before reaching out for help?

Don’t wait for 11 years – join Tribe Sober today!