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What Is Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?

When a person has uncontrolled and problematic drinking, he or she may have a health condition called alcohol use disorder (AUD), commonly known as alcoholism. Health professionals use a list of symptoms to diagnose AUD. Depending on how many symptoms the person has, AUD can be mild, moderate, or severe. Even a mild disorder can lead to problems, so treatment is important.

The latest science shows that AUD can cause lasting changes in the brain. That's why AUD is best treated by a health professional. The good news is that effective treatment can help the brain heal, while giving people with alcohol problems the skills and support they need to recover.

Some people who drink heavily may not have AUD, but their drinking patterns put them at risk for AUD and other problems. Our companion website, Rethinking Drinking, explains more about risky drinking and when it's time to get help.