Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcoholism, is a primary, progressive, potentially fatal and chronic relapsing mental disorder which is one of the most widespread forms of addiction globally. Alcohol consumption is classed as world’s third largest risk factor for pre-mature mortality and loss of health (WHO report, 2011).

Pakistan, an Islamic state, where 95-98% religious values are followed, in which the alcohol sale and use is strictly prohibited by law is witnessing a surge in alcohol abuse and consequent alcohol use disorders in recent years (Haviland, 2013; Walsh 2010). Consequently, alcoholism is turning in to a growing problem in Pakistan.

The excess amount of drugs activate the brain reward system, which reinforces the behaviors and production of the memories (producing the feeling of pleasure), which later on create the dependency over the drugs.

Alcohol use disorder is only caused by the excess or abusive usage of drugs. According to the prevalence studies of Alcohol Use Disorder it is found that its prevalence is higher among 18-24 years old who uses illicit drugs.

There are many persons who use drugs but they don’t have any problems, it is important to note that those people are not addict they may be users only. According to the progression and recovery of this disorder, it develops in stages beginning from user to abuser and addict where major areas of life functioning get disturbed.


Alcohol use disorder is a common disorder. In the United States, the 12-month prevalence of alcohol use disorder is estimated to be 4.6% among 12- to 17-year-olds and 8.5% among adults age 18 years and older in the United States. Rates of the disorder are greater among adult men (12.4%) than among adult women (4.9%).

According to the prevalence studies in Pakistan it is found that among 6.7 million drug users there are one million users who are suffering with alcohol use disorder.

Diagnostic Criteria

We diagnose many people in our surrounding but we have no standardized tool to diagnose other, but in rehabilitation facility at Nishan we are using DSM-5 to diagnose patient with alcohol dependency. Diagnosis is the ladder for the treatment. You cannot treat anyone until you don’t diagnose a person clearly. According to DSM-5 following are the important diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis of Alcohol Use Disorder.

  1. Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
  3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.
  4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
  5. Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
  6. Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
  7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
  8. Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
  9. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
  10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
    1. A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect.
    2. Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
  11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
    1. The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol.
    2. Alcohol (or a closely related substance, such as a benzodiazepine) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Severity of disease

According to DSM-5 we can make a sense of severity of the disease. There are three categories which are as follow.

  1. Mild: Presence of 2-3 symptoms
  2. Moderate: Presence of 4-5 symptoms
  3. Severe: Presence of 6 or more symptoms

Journey of treatment starts from diagnoses and accomplish after If you are facing a problem of Alcohol Use Disorder contact us.

Written By: Fayyaz Ahmed

Clinical Psychologist

Nishan Rehab Islamabad


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