Alcoholism diagnostic criteria

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Kiran Singh, M.D. [2]

Diagnostic Criteria

DSM-V Diagnostic Criteria for Alcohol Intoxication[1]

  • A. Recent ingestion of alcohol.


  • B. Clinically significant problematic beliavioral or psychological changes (e.g., inappropriate sexual or aggressive behavior, mood lability, impaired judgment) that developed

during, or shortly after, alcohol ingestion.


  • C. One (or more) of the following signs or symptoms developing during, or shortly after,

alcohol use:


  • D. The signs or symptoms are not attributable to another medical condition and are not better explained by another mental disorder, including intoxication with another substance.

DSM-V Diagnostic Criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder[1]

  • A. A problematic pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress,as manifested by at least two of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:
  • 1. Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  • 2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
  • 3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol,or recover from its effects.
  • 4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
  • 5. Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work,school, or home.
  • 6. Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
  • 7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
  • 8. Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
  • 9. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
  • 10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
  • a. A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect.
  • b. A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
  • 11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
  • a. The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol.
  • b. Alcohol (or a closely related substance, such as a benzodiazepine) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Specify if:

  • In early remission: After full criteria for alcohol use disorder were previously met,none of the criteria for alcohol use disorder have been met for at least 3 months but for

less than 12 months (with the exception that Criterion A4, “Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol,” may be met).

  • In sustained remission: After full criteria for alcohol use disorder were previously met, none of the criteria for alcohol use disorder have been met at any time during a

period of 12 months or longer (with the exception that Criterion A4, “Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol,” may be met).

Specify if:

  • In a controlled environment: This additional specifier is used if the individual is in an environment where access to alcohol is restricted.

Specify current severity:

  • Mild: Presence of 2-3 symptoms.
  • Moderate: Presence of 4-5 symptoms.
  • Severe: Presence of 6 or more symptoms.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders : DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association. 2013. ISBN 0890425558.