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The facts

"I drank too much ... and it was getting in the way of everything I was trying to be" - Ewan McGregor.

Alcohol use disorder (sometimes referred to in popular media as alcoholism) is a pattern of alcohol use that involves struggling to control drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes issues, becoming tolerant to alcohol's effects, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking. Drinking that results in significant distress and problems functioning in every day life should be discussed with a medical practitioner. 

How common is it?

Around 1 in 6 Australians consume alcohol at levels that places them at lifetime risk of an alcohol-related injury. Surprisingly to some, alcohol was the primary drug of concern in around one third of drug treatment episodes in Australia - making it the most commonly treated drug in Australia. See more statistics about alcohol in Australia here.

Are there different types of alcohol use disorder?

​Alcohol use issues range from risky drinking (binge drinking) through to alcohol abuse and finally, alcohol dependence.

  • Binge drinking involves a high consumption of drinks in a short period of time. it can be infrequent (for example once a month) or frequent. 

  • Alcohol abuse is a drinking pattern that results in significant and recurrent negative consequences for the drinker and/or their family and close friends. They may fail to fulfill major obligations with family or employers, or have legal problems (such as repeat DUI arrests) related to their drinking.

  • Alcohol dependence is a condition in which drinkers have developed a tolerance (the need to drink more to achieve the same "high") to alcohol and withdrawal symptoms if drinking is suddenly stopped.


Even mild to moderate alcohol problems can result in significant health issues for individuals, their families and the community.

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