For healthcare professionals who are not mental health or addiction specialists, the following descriptions aim to increase awareness of signs of co-occurring psychiatric disorders that may require attention and, often, referral to a specialist. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) often co-occurs with other mental health disorders, either simultaneously or sequentially.1 The prevalence of anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric disorders is much higher among persons with AUD compared to the general population. If you feel that you sometimes drink too much alcohol, or your drinking is causing problems, or if your family is concerned about your drinking, talk with your health care provider.

  • If you do relapse, it is important to return to treatment right away, so you can learn more about your relapse triggers and improve your coping skills.
  • During pregnancy, the fetal liver metabolizes alcohol slower due to incomplete expression of enzymes CYP2E1 and ADH.
  • Finally, rehabilitation and recovery are long-term endeavors that take years for most dually diagnosed people.
  • These populations experience disparities in access to care for AUD and depressive disorders but are underrepresented in studies of these disorders.
  • People with AUD have a heightened risk for depressive disorders, which are the most common co-occurring psychiatric disorders for this population.
  • Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a chronic, treatable illness, characterized by uncontrolled drinking and negative consequences from alcohol.

People who have serious AUD may need to live in a treatment facility staffed by medical professionals who have experience treating the disorder. In a comprehensive review, Fischer (1990) found that between 3.6 and 26 percent of homeless adults suffered from both a mental disorder and AUD. The rates of co-occurring mental and AOD-use disorders ranged from 8 to 31 percent. Other recent reviews also have determined that the rates of dual diagnoses among the homeless range from 10 to 20 percent (Drake et al. 1991). You can search for an empathetic mental health professional using our Healthline FindCare tool to get more information and help finding the right treatment for you. Research from 2019 found ACT may help people who haven’t benefited from existing AUD treatments, but larger studies are needed to support its effectiveness.

Differential Diagnosis

These optimistic findings have fueled attempts to develop more effective AUD interventions among psychiatric patients (see the section “Treatment”). Many studies investigating the causes (i.e., etiology) of homelessness and dual diagnoses have suggested that people with co-occurring mental and AOD-use disorders are particularly prone to losing family supports and stable housing and becoming homeless (Drake et al. 1991). One reason for this increased risk appears to be that dually diagnosed clients often are excluded from housing and treatment programs designated specifically for people with single disorders (Drake et al. 1991). As a mental health condition, AUD refers to alcohol use that feels distressing or beyond your control. Many mental health-centered treatments for AUD can help recovery, from motivational interviewing to mindfulness training. That means it is often important to have a plan in place for continued mental health care or therapy for that anxiety or depression when leaving treatment for addiction, so that those feelings don’t pose such a threat to sobriety, Dick said.

Again, it’s important to create a timeline of mental health symptoms and alcohol use and to collaborate as needed with mental health specialists for selection of pharmacotherapies and psychosocial interventions. It may also include medicines for detox (medical treatment for alcohol withdrawal) and/or for treating the AUD. A study involving almost 1,000 people found that Black and Latino people and other ethnic groups were less likely than White people to get “quality” alcohol screenings. These screenings are when health care professionals ask people not only if they drink, but also how much they drink. That’s important in finding out whether someone is a heavy drinker, so they can get the right treatment. The study found other things also affected whether people got quality alcohol screenings.


Binge drinking is drinking so much at once that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is 0.08% or more. For a man, this usually happens after having 5 or more drinks within a few hours. Not everyone who binge drinks has an AUD, but they are at higher risk for getting one. Because denial is common, you may feel like you don’t have a problem with drinking. You might not recognize how much you drink or how many problems in your life are related to alcohol use. Listen to relatives, friends or co-workers when they ask you to examine your drinking habits or to seek help.

A majority of people living with addiction will reach remission — somewhere between 60% and 75%, he added. Sometimes, the relapse can indicate a need for changes in socialization, environment or stress levels to reduce the urge to use, Dick said. Like other physical illnesses, even when there are great improvements, it is crucial to maintain health to reduce the risk of recurrence, Kelly said. Those predispositions can combine with a history of trauma or developmental experiences to make someone much more likely to develop an addiction, Kelly added. It took 15 entries into rehab before the late actor Matthew Perry found long-term sobriety, he wrote in his memoir, “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing.” And after his death, loved ones and fans alike are honoring his commitment to recovery.

What are the dangers of too much alcohol?

According to the DSM criteria, persistent alcohol use resulting in social, vocational, psychological, or physical problems should be considered abuse or dependence. This definition has several implications for diagnosing AOD-use disorders in severely mentally ill patients. For example, in psychiatric patients, who are more vulnerable to the effects of psychoactive drugs, use of relatively small amounts of AOD’s may result in aud mental health psychological problems or relapse of the symptoms of mental illness or may evolve into an obvious use disorder (Dixon et al. 1990; Drake et al. 1989). Moreover, clinicians must be aware that in many patients with apparent dual diagnoses, AOD use may have induced the second psychiatric disorder (Lehman et al. 1994). Among the homeless, those with severe mental illnesses and co-occurring AUD constitute a complex subgroup.

aud mental health

Moreover, tolerance to alcohol can increase alcohol intake, which in turn may exacerbate sleep symptoms. To have a full picture for patient care, patients with AUD should be screened for other substance use. Stigma can be reduced with normalization statements such as “Many people try (cannabis or painkillers in ways that are not prescribed) at some point in their lives; is that something you have tried? When thinking about addiction, people need to remember that because of genetic factors and how different bodies react, the feeling of craving a drink may be entirely different for someone with substance use disorder than it is for you, Dick said. Too much alcohol affects your speech, muscle coordination and vital centers of your brain. This is of particular concern when you’re taking certain medications that also depress the brain’s function.