The National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) has provided a definition of low-risk drinking. If your alcohol use is within these limits, you are likely not at risk for AUD or its associated health complications. For women, low-risk drinking is defined as no more than 3 drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week. For men, it is defined as no more than 4 drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week. NIAAA research shows that only about 2 in 100 people who drink within these limits have AUD.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) is the handbook used by health care professionals in the United States and much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. DSM contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosis, and provides a common language for clinicians to communicate about their patients. It also establishes consistent and reliable diagnoses that can be used in the research of mental disorders.
The presence of at least 2 of these symptoms occurring within a 12-month period indicates an alcohol use disorder (AUD):
The severity of the AUD is defined as:
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has developed a set of criteria for assessing the severity of addiction and providing appropriate placement along a continuum of care. The assessment takes into account a patient’s past and current substance use, health history, emotional and behavioral health, readiness to change, experience with relapse, and living environment. Placement is made along a continuum of clinical treatment ranging from 0.5 (early intervention) to 4.0 (medically managed intensive inpatient care):
Level 0.5: Early Intervention
Level I: Outpatient Treatment
Level II: Intensive Outpatient/Partial Hospitalization
Level III: Residential/Inpatient Treatment
Level IV: Medically-Managed Intensive Inpatient Treatment
The ASAM criteria have become the most widely used and comprehensive set of guidelines for placement, continued stay and transfer/discharge of patients with addiction and co-occurring conditions. ASAM’s criteria are required to be used by addiction healthcare professionals in over 30 states.