Alcohol Use Disorder

Whether you're seeking alcoholism treatment again or for the first time, we can help. Experts at Rush offer therapy, medications and support.

Whether you're seeking alcoholism treatment again or for the first time, we can help. Experts at Rush offer therapy, medications and support.

Alcohol use disorder is the official name for what many people call alcoholism. It's when drinking causes harm or interferes with your life.

Signs You Should Get Help for Alcohol Use Disorder

You may have alcohol use disorder if you've experienced two or more of the following symptoms in the past year:

  • Drank more than you planned to
  • Tried to drink less but couldn't
  • Spent a lot of your time drinking or recovering from drinking
  • Felt a strong need to drink
  • Found that drinking interfered with your family life, work or school
  • Kept drinking even though it caused problems with your family or friends
  • Didn't do activities you enjoy just so you could drink
  • Got into dangerous situations because of drinking (for example, driving drunk or having unsafe sex)
  • Kept drinking even though it made you feel depressed, anxious or sick
  • Had to drink more and more to feel the effects of the alcohol
  • Had withdrawal symptoms when the alcohol wore off (for example, irritability, anxiety, depression, nausea or sweating)

Having two or three of these symptoms is a sign of mild alcohol use disorder. Four or five symptoms means the disorder is moderate. Six or more means the problem is severe.

If this sounds like you, please talk with a doctor. If your insurance requires a referral, you'll need to start with a primary care provider. If you already have a referral, or if you don't need one, you can make an appointment with the addiction medicine team at Rush.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment at Rush

We believe in treating alcohol use problems as early as possible. If you're even a little concerned about behavior that feels risky or out of control, we can help. You don't have to reach a crisis point to seek treatment.

At your first appointment, we'll start with a conversation. After talking through your history, your goals and any other problems you're dealing with, we'll make a plan. That plan may include one or more of the following:


There are several medications available to help with alcohol use disorder. They can help with the following:

  • Ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Decrease your craving for alcohol
  • Help you stop drinking by causing unpleasant effects when you do drink
  • Help your brain work normally again after long-term alcohol use

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Your plan may include individual or group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with psychologists or social workers at Rush. CBT is the most common type of psychotherapy. It can help you deal with emotional difficulties related to alcohol use disorder.

Support Groups

We can give you referrals to trusted support groups across the Chicago area. A support group offers a community of people dealing with the same problem. Many of our patients find that they're an important part of recovery.

Treatment for Related Conditions

Often, people dealing with alcohol use are also dealing with other conditions. Some of the most common are:

Addiction medicine specialists at Rush can treat other mental health issues alongside alcohol use disorder. And other specialists at Rush work with the addiction medicine team to treat any medical conditions related to alcohol use.

Most people with alcohol use problems — no matter how severe — can benefit from treatment. But the earlier you seek treatment, the faster and more lasting recovery is likely to be.

Alcohol Use Disorder Providers at Rush

Learn more about alcohol use disorder providers at Rush.

Meet our alcohol use disorder providers
stethoscope Meet our alcohol use disorder providers

Rush Excellence in Alcohol Use Disorder

  • Care for everyone — whether or not you want to quit: Doctors used to think that not drinking at all was the only way to treat alcohol use disorder. But research now shows that other approaches can also help. Our experts can help determine the options most likely to work for you, right now. This includes harm reduction — or help with limiting your risk, even if you're not ready to quit.
  • A judgment-free zone: Alcohol use disorder is just that — a disorder. We believe that seeking treatment for it should be no different than seeking treatment for anything else. If treatment has failed to work in the past, we'll focus on figuring out what will work. We'll never blame or judge you.
  • Care for related conditions: Alcohol use disorder is sometimes a sign of an underlying problem. For example, a person might drink too much because they're anxious or because they have trouble sleeping. Experts at Rush can get to the bottom of any related conditions and help you find the right treatment.