Alcohol use disorder (alcohol dependence syndrome, alcoholism, dipsomania) is a heterogeneous form of substance abuse affecting approximately 140 million adults worldwide. AUD is a psychiatric disorder that is based on current diagnosis—it is not a lifetime psychiatric diagnosis—although AUD can be a lifetime problem for a small percentage of individuals who consume alcohol. As a heterogeneous disorder, AUD has origins in family history (genetics), prenatal environmental exposure to alcohol and stressful events (epigenetics), and various postnatal environmental risk factors.

In reality, factors among all three sources of risk influence one another, enhancing the difficulty of pinpointing specific causal influences. This multiplicity of risk factors and the cumulative impact of such factors over the life course is often referred to as the “cascade model of risk ...

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