Did you know that in the United States, alcohol use contributes to about 88,000 deaths each year?1 Since alcohol affects each person differently, even one drink may be too much for one person but not affect someone else.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD), which includes the condition known as alcoholism, is a chronic brain disease in which a person uses alcohol compulsively, loses control over the habit, can become preoccupied with alcohol, has negative physical and emotional experiences when not using alcohol, and continues to need to drink.2 The disease affects adults as well as preteens and teens aged 12 to 17. We’ll talk more about the signs of AUD—such as binge drinking—but first let’s straighten out some false information about the illness. Let’s start with this quick quiz to see what you know about the subject:

1. Yes or No: Can you truly have an AUD if you only drink wine or beer instead of hard liquor?

Answer: A—Yes.
While some people think they can’t be alcoholics if they only drink beer or wine, this is simply not true. AUD can happen to anyone who overindulges in alcoholic beverages regardless of the type or strength.

2. Which person drinks too much?

Answer: C
One drink is considered 1.5 ounces of liquor and spirit, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer.

3. False or True: You may be more likely to develop AUD if a close blood relative has it.

Answer: B—True.
Genetics, family history, and home environment—as well as gender and mental health condition—can be factors in a person’s risk of developing AUD.3

4. People with AUD may:

Answer: D—Any of the above.
While AUD has many telltale signs, a person’s habits can mask the disorder.

5. What are some of the risks associated with excessive drinking?

Answer: D—All of the above.
Conditions and circumstances such as these, pancreatitis, domestic violence, and brain damage can result from AUD.4

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, AUD symptoms include:5

  • Drinking more or longer than intended
  • Not being able to stop or cut down on drinking
  • Spending a lot of time drinking
  • Spending a lot of time being sick or getting over the after-effects of drinking
  • Having a strong need or urge to drink
  • Realizing that drinking or being sick from drinking often interferes with taking care of your work, school, family, and personal life
  • Continuing to drink even when it causes problems with family or friends
  • Giving up or cutting back on important, interesting, and pleasant activities and hobbies in favor of drinking
  • Getting into situations more than once while or after drinking that increases the chance of getting hurt (e.g., driving, lack of attention to safety, risky personal behavior, domestic violence, etc.)
  • Continuing to drink even though it’s causing depression or anxiety or making an existing health problem worse
  • Drinking after having a blackout with no memory of the events before the blackout
  • Discovering that the usual number of drinks now has much less effect
  • After the effects of alcohol wear off, having withdrawal symptoms (e.g., trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, sweating, etc.) or sensing things that don’t actually exist

Regardless of the level—mild, moderate, or severe—AUD can be treated. If you’re concerned that you or a family member may have AUD or difficulties with another substance, Teladoc Health cares and can help. Talk confidentially with one of our licensed therapists and counselors in the privacy of your home, office, dorm room, or anywhere else you feel comfortable. You can use the app to request a visit seven days a week, schedule your visit in as soon as three days, and work with the same counselor for as many visits as you need. Please remember that your mental, emotional, and physical health matter, and Teladoc Health is always here when you need us.

Create your Teladoc Health account

1,5National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

2Mayo Clinic


4Medical News Today

This portion of the Teladoc Health website occasionally offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is provided for educational purposes only. You cannot rely on any information provided here as a substitute for or replacement of professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Teladoc Health cannot assure that the information contained on this site always includes the most recent findings or developments with respect to the particular subject matter covered.

If you ever have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical- or health-related advice from your healthcare professional because of something you may have read on this site. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.

If you are in the United States and think you are having a medical or health emergency, call your healthcare professional, or 911, immediately.