Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between someone who is a heavy but casual drinker and someone who is suffering from AUD. Someone who is a casual or social drinker typically does not show the above-mentioned traits and behaviors associated with AUD. The CDC says moderate drinking is about two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
People who are casual drinkers typically drink with friends or with a meal but can stop drinking when they want to. While casual drinkers may occasionally drink more than they should, they would not do so regularly and should be able to identify the behavior and stop themselves from doing it again, whereas someone with AUD would likely overdrink many, many times.
Casual drinkers also do not use alcohol as a crutch or as a way to deal with their feelings. They typically do not turn to alcohol as their only way to relax or to get through difficulties like a breakup or the loss of a job.
Binge drinking is not the same as alcohol use disorder. Many people without AUD occasionally binge drink. However, people with AUD almost always have a history of binge drinking, and many people suffering from AUD binge drink regularly.
Some of the short-term effects of binge drinking can include poor judgment and an increase in risky decision making, upset stomach, vomiting, poor coordination, headaches, blacking out (loss of memory). In more extreme scenarios, symptoms of severe alcohol poisoning such as seizures, passing out, or even comas can be encountered.
Long-term AUD can have serious effects on the body. Some conditions, like a stroke or cancer, can have further long-term impacts and even lead to death. It is important to treat AUD as early as possible to prevent these health issues from setting in.
The effects of long-term alcohol misuse can include high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, liver disease/cancer, throat/mouth cancer, gastritis (inflamed stomach lining), and stomach ulcers, among many others.