What is Considered an Alcoholic?

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) – What is Considered an Alcoholic?

Drinking alcohol is an accepted part of society. With repeated alcohol abuse, an addiction to the substance is highly possible, especially if it’s used as a way to deal with problems in a person’s life. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the amount of people with alcoholism, also referred to as alcohol use disorder, was estimated to be around 15.1 million people in 2015. But how does one know when drinking is taken too far and becomes alcoholism? In this article, we will look at what is considered an alcoholic based on the medical definition of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder.

How Many Drinks a Week is Considered an Alcoholic?

To better understand the drinking limits that one needs, we will look at how many drinks a week is considered an alcoholic.

Firstly, we must define what a standard alcoholic drink is. In the United States, a standard drink is one that contains about 14 grams of alcohol. This amount is found in around 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of spirits. Moderate consumption for men are two standard drinks and one drink standard drink for women a day.

According to NIAAA, binge drinking is defined as having four drinks for women and five drinks for men in roughly two hours’ time. Heavy alcohol use is when binge drinking has occurred for more than five days in a month. As this drinking continues, dependence can form when a person drinks more than moderate levels and at binge levels frequently. This level of drinking is what is considered an alcoholic.

What are the First Signs of Alcoholism?

To better understand what is considered an alcoholic, we must answer the question “what are the first signs of alcoholism?”

In order to establish whether there is alcohol use disorder in a patient, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is consulted. It highlights several criteria for alcohol use disorder or alcoholism. It looks at the person’s last year when asking the following questions:

  • Has your drinking continued even though it is the root of problems in your family and social life?
  • Has your drinking and recovery from drinking caused problems in your job, school or family?
  • Do you experience cravings for alcohol that are hard to ignore?
  • Do you spend most of your time recovering from the side effects of drinking and drinking itself?
  • Have you attempted to cut down on your drinking or tried to stop altogether but failed in doing so?
  • When you drink, do you often drink more than you set out to, or drank for longer than you meant to?
  • When you haven’t had a drink yet, do you experience withdrawal symptoms such as excessive sweating, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, depression and nausea?
  • Do you have memory blackouts? Do you carry on drinking alcohol even though it makes you feel anxious and depressed?
  • Are you developing a high tolerance to alcohol? Do you need to drink much more than you used to drink to get to the same feeling?
  • Found yourself in risky situations as a result of your drinking? Situations such as driving intoxicated, operating heavy machinery or unsafe sex.
  • Have you stopped doing other things you used to enjoy, such as hobbies, just so that you could focus on drinking?

What is considered an alcoholic, based on this evaluation, is when two or more of these questions apply to your drinking habit.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.