Alcohol use disorders

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Overview

Alcohol use disorders are characterised by a problematic pattern of alcohol use, leading to significant impairment or distress. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)1 specifies that in order to meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder, at least two symptoms must have been present in the previous twelve months, which can include both behavioural and physical symptoms such as withdrawal, increased tolerance (needing greater amounts of alcohol to obtain the desired effect), or craving.

The assessment of an individual with an alcohol use disorder includes evaluating the frequency and level of alcohol consumption, its impact on the individual’s life, relationships and health, and other potential comorbidities including comorbid mental and physical health problems.2

A number of techniques have demonstrated efficacy in treating individuals with alcohol use disorders. These include cognitive-behavioural therapies,3,4 brief interventions,5, 6 motivational interviewing,7 community reinforcement, and behaviourally oriented couples and family therapy.6, 8 Pharmacotherapies have also been shown to be effective.9

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  • Contributor(s)
    APS Member Resources Team

    Professor Maree Teesson
    Director, NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use
    NHMRC Principal Research Fellow
    NDARC, UNSW
  • Publish date
    01 Jun 2015
  • References
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