Alcohol Addiction

What is an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is another term for alcohol addiction. Individuals with alcohol addiction may be unable to manage drinking habits, and feel as if they are unable to function normally without alcohol. Such abuse of alcohol may impact family life, personal matters, relationships and health over time. Alcohol Use Disorder is a disease that causes changes to the brain and neurochemistry, and those with AUD may thus be incapable of managing this disorder without medication and behavioral support.

Signs that a loved one may have an Alcohol Addiction

AUD may vary in severity, and sometimes be difficult to recognise. Some symptoms of alcohol addiction include an increased frequency or quantity of use, a higher tolerance for alcohol, drinking secretly or at inappropriate times, changes in personality, increased aggression, depression, lethargy or problems with daily life. AUD may also cause sexual problems, a suppressed immune function, ulcers, vision problems and ultimately heart and liver disease.

In many cases, some people with AUD may have a binge and repair cycle. In other words, while they may not be daily drinkers, there is still a significant impact on their life, be it emotionally, psychologically or physically.  These individuals may be the most difficult drinkers to treat as they are under the illusion that they have some semblance of control, despite evidence proving otherwise

Symptoms of an Alcohol Addiction

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), an alcohol addiction is characterised by the presence of two or more of the symptoms below:

  • Drinking greater quantities or for a longer duration than intended
  • Strong cravings for alcohol
  • Attempted to quit drinking but to no avail
  • Lack of interest in other activities due to drinking
  • Time spent recovering from the effects of alcohol and hangovers
  • Placing oneself in risky situations under the influence (eg. Driving whilst drunk, risky sexual practices etc)
  • Difficulties at home, work or school due to drinking or hangovers
  • Continued drinking despite negative consequences to home, family, professional or educational life
  • Drinking despite feeling anxious or sad
  • Increased tolerance
  • Signs of withdrawal such as shaking, restlessness, nausea, hallucinations

Risk factors for Alcohol Addiction

  • A family history of alcohol addictions
  • High stress levels
  • Co-existing mental health and other disorders such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and trauma
  • Peer pressure to drink or a drinking culture
  • Binge drinking
  • Mixing Alcohol with other drugs
  • Previous history of substance use

Treatment Process

Treatment for an alcohol addiction may entail:

  • Medications
  • Behavioural therapies (e.g Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
  • Marital and Family Counselling
  • One-to-one or small group counselling

During therapy sessions, a counsellor will educate you on your drinking and potential risks, working with you to set goals and change your behaviour patterns.

Overcoming an alcohol use disorder or any addiction is an ongoing process and often involves relapse (a return to drinking). Relapse is considered a temporary setback and it is important to return to treatment right away in order to identify triggers and improve coping skills.

What can I expect at my first appointment?

The first visit will include a detailed medical and psychological history, in order to assess the patients physical, mental and environmental health. This will allow our experts to ascertain immediate treatment requirements. Medical referrals will be made should inpatient or more comprehensive medical support be required.

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#11-15/16, Novena Medical Center, 10 Sinaran Drive,
Singapore 307608

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