April is alcohol awareness month. Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.

An estimated 15 million people in the United States have AUD. Approximately 5.8 percent or 14.4 million adults in the United States ages 18 and older had AUD in 2018. Adolescents can be diagnosed with AUD as well, and in 2018, an estimated 401,000 adolescents have AUD.

Here are some of the warning signs:

· More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?

· Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the after effects?

· Experienced craving — a strong need, or urge, to drink?

· Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?

· Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?

· More than once got into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?

· Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?

The above is from the NIAAA website.

LouAnn Daprato