Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link
Classifying Alcohol-Related Disorders

Classifying Alcohol-Related Disorders



At-risk drinking

Defined by the amount and frequency of drinking:

  • More than 14 drinks* a week or 4 drinks per occasion for men

  • More than 7 drinks a week or 3 drinks per occasion for women

Binge drinking

  • 5 or more drinks per occasion for men

  • 4 or more drinks per occasion for women

  • Can go on for many days, followed by no or little alcohol for several days

  • A particular problem in younger people

Alcohol use disorder

  • Prevents people from fulfilling their obligations

  • Is done in physically dangerous situations (such as driving)

  • Results in legal, social, or interpersonal problems

  • More and more alcohol needed to produce the same effects (tolerance)

  • Stopping drinking results in unpleasant, sometimes painful, physical symptoms (withdrawal)

  • Drinking more than intended

  • Reducing use desired but not possible

  • Spending a lot of time getting or drinking alcohol or recovering from its effects

  • Missing important events or activities (such as work, a wedding, or a graduation) because of drinking

  • Continuing to drink even though drinking is causing physical or psychologic problems

  • Craving alcohol

* One drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor, such as whiskey.