Anormed UK

What Classes You As An Alcoholic

Understanding what defines an alcoholic is crucial for recognizing and addressing alcohol-related concerns. In this blog, we will explore the criteria, signs, and symptoms that classify someone as an alcoholic. By shedding light on this topic, we aim to promote awareness and provide insights into the complex nature of alcoholism. Whether you are seeking self-assessment or guidance for a loved one, this blog will help you gain a better understanding of what classes an individual as an alcoholic and the importance of seeking appropriate support and treatment.


The Diagnostic Criteria for Alcoholism


Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a clinical diagnosis that involves the presence of certain criteria. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) provides a set of guidelines to identify and classify alcoholism. These criteria include:


Alcohol consumption: Excessive and uncontrollable consumption of alcohol, often characterized by an inability to limit intake or repeated failed attempts to cut down or control drinking.


Impaired control: Difficulty controlling the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption, leading to a loss of control over one’s drinking behavior.


Preoccupation with alcohol: Spending a significant amount of time thinking about, obtaining, and recovering from alcohol consumption.


Physical and psychological dependence: Developing tolerance to alcohol, requiring increased amounts to achieve the desired effect, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop or reduce drinking.


Negative consequences: Continued alcohol use despite experiencing adverse effects on personal relationships, work or school performance, physical health, and overall well-being.


It is important to note that the severity of alcoholism can vary, ranging from mild to severe, based on the number of criteria met. Seeking professional assessment and diagnosis is crucial for accurate identification and appropriate treatment.


Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism


Recognizing the signs and symptoms of alcoholism can help determine whether someone meets the criteria for being classified as an alcoholic. While the severity and presentation of symptoms can vary from person to person, common signs of alcoholism may include:


Increased tolerance: Needing to consume larger amounts of alcohol to achieve the desired effect.


Withdrawal symptoms: Experiencing physical and psychological symptoms when attempting to stop or reduce alcohol consumption, such as tremors, anxiety, irritability, sweating, nausea, or insomnia.


Loss of control: Being unable to limit or control the amount of alcohol consumed, often leading to excessive or prolonged drinking episodes.


Neglecting responsibilities: Neglecting personal, professional, or academic responsibilities due to alcohol use, such as missing work, skipping important events, or neglecting personal relationships.


Persistent desire to drink: Having a strong and persistent desire to drink, even when it causes harm or interferes with daily life.


Withdrawal from activities: Losing interest in activities or hobbies once enjoyed in favor of drinking alcohol.


Continued use despite negative consequences: Persistently using alcohol despite experiencing adverse effects on physical health, mental well-being, relationships, or legal issues.


It is important to remember that the presence of these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean someone is an alcoholic. A comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional is necessary for an accurate diagnosis.


Diagnostic Criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder


To determine whether someone can be classified as an alcoholic, healthcare professionals refer to the diagnostic criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 provides specific criteria for diagnosing Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), which encompasses a range of alcohol-related problems, including alcoholism.


The DSM-5 outlines 11 criteria, and an individual must meet at least two of these criteria within a 12-month period to receive a diagnosis of AUD. These criteria include:


  • Drinking in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended.
  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
  • Spending a great deal of time obtaining, using, or recovering from alcohol.
  • Craving or a strong desire to drink alcohol.
  • Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Continued alcohol use despite persistent or recurring social or interpersonal problems caused or worsened by alcohol.
  • Giving up or reducing important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to alcohol use.
  • Recurrent alcohol use in situations where it is physically hazardous.
  • Continued alcohol use despite knowing it is causing or exacerbating physical or psychological problems.
  • Tolerance, characterized by the need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve the desired effect or a diminished effect with continued use of the same amount.
  • Withdrawal, as manifested by the characteristic withdrawal syndrome or the need for alcohol to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.


Meeting any two of these criteria suggests the presence of Alcohol Use Disorder and may indicate alcoholism. It is crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for a thorough assessment and diagnosis.


Seeking Help for Alcoholism


If you suspect that you or someone you know may meet the criteria for alcoholism, it is important to seek help and support. Overcoming alcoholism is a challenging journey, but with the right resources and assistance, recovery is possible. Here are some steps you can take to address alcoholism:


Self-reflection and acceptance: Acknowledge the presence of alcoholism and the impact it has on your life or the life of your loved one. Recognize that seeking help is a sign of strength and a commitment to positive change.


Reach out for professional help: Consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in addiction and alcoholism. They can provide a comprehensive assessment, diagnosis, and guidance on the appropriate treatment options.


Consider therapy or counseling: Individual therapy, group therapy, or counseling can provide valuable support and help you address the underlying factors contributing to alcoholism. Therapists can assist in developing coping strategies, improving self-esteem, and exploring healthier ways to manage stress and emotions.


Explore treatment options: Depending on the severity of alcoholism, different treatment options may be recommended. These can include outpatient programs, inpatient rehabilitation, or intensive outpatient programs. Alcohol detoxification, medical management, and therapy are often integral components of these programs.


Build a support network: Surround yourself with a supportive network of family, friends, and peers who understand and encourage your journey to recovery. Participate in support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or other addiction recovery programs where you can connect with individuals facing similar challenges.


Adopt a healthy lifestyle: Incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine, such as regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adequate sleep. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, and find healthy ways to manage stress and emotions.


Stay committed to recovery: Overcoming alcoholism is a lifelong process. Stay committed to your recovery by attending follow-up appointments, participating in aftercare programs, and maintaining healthy coping mechanisms. Remember that relapses may occur, but they do not define your journey. Seek help and support if needed and continue moving forward.


It is essential to remember that everyone’s journey to recovery is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Be patient and compassionate with yourself or your loved one as you navigate the path to sobriety. With dedication, support, and professional guidance, you can break free from the grip of alcoholism and lead a healthier, more fulfilling life.


Seeking Support from Loved Ones and Community


Recovering from alcoholism requires a strong support system that includes the involvement of loved ones and the community. Here are some ways to seek support during your journey:


Open up to trusted family and friends: Share your struggles and goals with those closest to you. Explain your commitment to recovery and ask for their understanding, encouragement, and support. Having a network of loved ones who are invested in your well-being can provide immense emotional support.


Attend support group meetings: Consider joining support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or other addiction recovery groups. These groups offer a safe and confidential space to share experiences, gain insights from others in similar situations, and receive support from individuals who have successfully overcome alcoholism.


Engage in therapy or counseling with loved ones: Family therapy or couples counseling can help mend strained relationships caused by alcoholism. These sessions provide a platform to address conflicts, improve communication, and develop strategies for supporting each other throughout the recovery process.


Educate your loved ones about alcoholism: Help your family and friends understand the nature of alcoholism, including its causes, effects, and challenges. This knowledge can foster empathy, reduce stigma, and encourage a more supportive and understanding environment.


Seek community resources: Look for local community organizations, religious groups, or addiction recovery centers that offer educational programs, workshops, or support services specifically tailored to individuals and families affected by alcoholism. These resources can provide additional guidance, information, and support.


Consider online support communities: In today’s digital age, there are numerous online forums and support communities dedicated to alcoholism recovery. Participating in these platforms can offer a sense of connection, share experiences, and provide additional resources and advice.


Remember, building a support system is crucial for long-term recovery. Surrounding yourself with individuals who genuinely care about your well-being can make a significant difference in your journey to overcome alcoholism. Reach out, be open about your needs, and accept the support and guidance available to you. Together, you can navigate the challenges of alcoholism and build a healthier, more fulfilling life.


Developing Healthy Coping Strategies


Recovery from alcoholism involves replacing unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthier alternatives. Here are some strategies to develop positive coping skills:


Find alternative activities: Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Explore hobbies, sports, arts, or any other activities that promote a sense of well-being and provide a healthy outlet for stress and emotions.


Practice stress management techniques: Learn and implement stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or mindfulness. These practices can help you relax, reduce anxiety, and cope with stressors without resorting to alcohol.


Seek professional help: Consider therapy or counseling to address underlying emotional or psychological issues that may contribute to alcoholism. A mental health professional can help you explore and develop effective coping strategies tailored to your specific needs.


Establish a routine: Structure your day with a consistent routine that includes regular sleep patterns, meals, exercise, and leisure activities. Having a predictable schedule can provide stability and reduce the likelihood of turning to alcohol as a means of escape or coping.


Build a support network: Surround yourself with individuals who support your sobriety and encourage healthy choices. This can include attending support group meetings, connecting with sober friends, or seeking guidance from a sponsor or mentor.


Practice self-care: Prioritize self-care by taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. This can involve getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, engaging in regular exercise, and nurturing healthy relationships.


Learn healthy coping mechanisms: Explore healthy ways to cope with stress, sadness, or challenging emotions. This may include journaling, talking to a trusted friend or therapist, practicing relaxation techniques, engaging in creative outlets, or seeking professional guidance.


Remember, developing healthy coping strategies is an ongoing process. It takes time and effort to replace old habits with new, positive ones. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories along the way. With perseverance and a commitment to your well-being, you can overcome alcoholism and lead a fulfilling, sober life.




In conclusion, identifying and developing healthy coping strategies is a crucial aspect of recovery from alcoholism. It is important to recognize that alcoholism is a complex condition that affects individuals differently. However, by acknowledging the problem, seeking professional help, and implementing positive coping mechanisms, individuals can break free from the cycle of alcohol addiction.


Recovery is a journey that requires commitment, perseverance, and support. It may involve exploring alternative activities, practicing stress management techniques, establishing a routine, building a support network, and prioritizing self-care. These strategies can help individuals navigate through challenges, manage emotions, and reduce the risk of relapse.


Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. Each person’s journey is unique, and it is important to tailor coping strategies to individual needs and preferences. Seeking professional guidance and connecting with supportive communities can provide invaluable resources and assistance along the way.


With determination and a commitment to positive change, individuals can overcome alcoholism and embrace a healthier, more fulfilling life. Recovery is possible, and there is support available for those seeking to break free from the grip of alcohol addiction.

Free Callback Service

Our trained addiction counsellors are available 24 hours a day to help you