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What Constitutes a Clinical Diagnosis of Alcoholism?

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

May 13, 2024

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Alcoholism, known as alcohol use disorder, is a medical condition where someone drinks a lot or often, even when it leads to problems, emotional pain, or physical damage.

With a mix of medications, counseling, and support, you can find help and recover from alcoholism.

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Need help getting addiction treatment?

Read on to learn what constitutes a clinical diagnosis of alcoholism.

Clinical Criteria for Diagnosis of Alcoholism

A clinical diagnosis of alcoholism in DSM-5-TR can be mild, moderate, or severe, based on how many symptoms you have had in the past 12 months. This pattern of drinking causes major problems or stress. The clinical criteria can be grouped as follows:

Control issues

  • Drinking more than planned or for longer than planned
  • Trying to drink less but failing to do so
  • Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from drinking

Impact on duties and relationships

  • Missing work, school, or family duties due to drinking
  • Quitting activities you used to enjoy because of drinking
  • Drinking causes problems in your closest relationships

Risky behavior

  • Drinking in dangerous situations, like before driving
  • Continuing to drink even if it worsens health issues or causes mood problems

Cravings and tolerance

  • Feeling strong urges to drink
  • Needing to drink more to feel the same effects

Withdrawal symptoms

  • Feeling sick when not drinking
image representing clinical criteria for diagnosis of alcoholism

Am I an Alcoholic? | Quiz

If you are wondering if you have a drinking problem, try taking a quick like this one – Am I an Alcoholic?

This quiz can give you a clearer idea of where you stand and if you need help. Remember, reaching out to a doctor is a smart first step to getting the right guidance and support. They can refer you to a mental health or addiction specialist for a diagnosis. While a quiz can be helpful, there’s no substitute for a clinical diagnosis.

How to Get Treatment for Alcoholism

Although alcoholism is a chronic and incurable condition, it’s also treatable. Every alcohol addiction is different, but you can follow these simple steps to help you begin the recovery process:

  • Talk to your doctor: The first step is to talk to your doctor about your drinking. They can help you understand your options. They may also suggest reputable rehabs.
  • Find a treatment program: Look for a rehab center that offers programs tailored to your needs. Some offer outpatient programs where you can go home every day, while others provide inpatient rehab, where you stay at the center for 30 to 90 days.
  • Check your insurance: See what kind of treatment your insurance covers. The best rehabs have experts who can help you with this.
  • Get support: Seek support from friends, family, or a support group to help you on your recovery journey.
  • Start treatment: Once you find the right program begin your treatment. Be patient, stick with the plan, and remember that recovery is an ongoing journey.

Is Alcoholism Rehab Covered by Insurance?

Under the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans offer coverage for alcoholism rehab. It’s important to know what your plan covers so you can get the best help possible. To find out if your insurance covers rehab, visit our insurance verification page. Call 866.330.9449 if you need immediate help.

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Get Insurance-Covered Treatment for Alcoholism at Renaissance Recovery

Alcoholism can affect anyone, no matter their age or background. If you or a loved one is battling alcohol addiction, help is available through insurance-covered treatment programs.

At Renaissance Recovery Center in Huntington Beach, CA, we offer personalized treatment in an outpatient setting. Our luxury beachside facility provides a calming environment where you can get the care you need without putting your personal or work responsibilities on hold. For those who need more structured support, we also have intensive outpatient programs. If you need help managing withdrawal, we can refer you to detox centers across California.

Our alcohol addiction treatment programs include:

When you’re ready to break free from addiction, call 866.330.9449 for immediate help.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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