Nonpathological use of alcohol. The key element of alcohol use disorder is the use of heavy doses of alcohol with resulting repeated and significant distress or impaired functioning. While most drinkers sometimes consume enough alcohol to feel intoxicated, only a minority (less than 20%) ever develop alcohol use disorder. Therefore, drinking, even daily, in low doses and occasional intoxication do not by themselves make this diagnosis.
Sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder. The signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder are similar to those seen in sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder. The two must be distinguished, however, because the course may be different, especially in relation to medical problems.
Conduct disorder in childhood and adult antisocial personality disorder. Alcohol use disorder, along with other substance use disorders, is seen in the majority of individuals with antisocial personality and preexisting conduct disorder. Because these diagnoses are associated with an early onset of alcohol use disorder as well as a worse prognosis, it is important to establish both conditions.
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