There are significant issues with this term which means that it is often contested (see addiction).

Alcohol Use Disorders are medical diagnoses established in DSM-5 which defines alcohol use disorder (AUD) with mild, moderate, and severe sub-classifications. Anyone meeting any two of the eleven criteria during the same 12-month period would receive a diagnosis of AUD. The severity of AUD—mild, moderate, or severe—is based on the number of criteria met. All 11 criteria are self-reported situations or behaviours such as ‘having spent a lot of time drinking or getting over the after-effects’ or ‘having times when you drank more or longer than you intended’

A body such as the US National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism describes alcohol use disorder as “a chronic relapsing brain disorder characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” All aspects of this definition are open to challenge as is the notion that ‘alcoholism’ is a disease. (see addiction; see disease model; see drug, set and setting; see Rat Park)

In some circumstances, the term alcohol dependency, which can be more accurately defined, may be more appropriate than alcoholism.