Alcohol Addiction - Alcoholism - Diagnosis

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Alcohol Addiction - Alcoholism - Diagnosis
Alcohol Addiction - Alcoholism - Diagnosis

Video: Alcohol Addiction - Alcoholism - Diagnosis

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Video: Alcoholism - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology 2023, January

Alcohol addiction: diagnosis

The diagnosis of an addiction syndrome is comprehensive and includes not only physical and psychological signs but also the living environment. Especially in the early stages of the disease, the symptoms are often unspecific.

In the course of alcohol addiction, drinking behavior becomes increasingly clear. Withdrawal symptoms and the onset of organ damage (such as the liver) can be observed in the late stages.

In the course of the diagnosis, various tests are carried out and, for example, laboratory values ​​are determined.


  • Continue reading
  • more on the subject
  • Advice, downloads & tools
  • Clarification of signs
  • Laboratory parameters
  • Whom can I ask?
  • How are the costs going to be covered?

Clarification of signs

In general, the consumption of alcohol can be detected by means of an alcohol test device (Alkomat) and by determining the blood alcohol level. In addition, alcohol consumption can be detected in the urine. Various physical and psychological signs point to an alcohol problem, e.g. the smell of alcohol, tremors of the hands (tremor), unsteady gait, certain skin changes (such as bloated face, redness of the facial skin, spider naevi), increased irritability and much more. Loss of performance, sleep disorders, disorders of sexual potency and the gastrointestinal tract as well as vegetative lability provide clues.

However, these signs could also be caused by other causes. In addition to the thorough physical examination, the doctor therefore also conducts a detailed discussion (anamnesis). There are special questionnaires that are used to discuss with the patient how often and how much alcohol he / she drinks. An alcohol questionnaire can also be filled out during the preventive medical check-up. For more information, see How a preventive medical check-up works. Sometimes it is also the living environment or the life partner that provides information about the illness (e.g. conflicts in the relationship, at work, accidents, driving license revocation).

Any alcohol-related consequential damage or behavioral problems and psychological problems are also included. For the diagnosis, it is also important whether other addictive substances (e.g. medication, illegal drugs) are consumed.

Laboratory parameters

Certain laboratory parameters are also used for diagnosis. They also provide indications of a dependency:

  • Gamma-GT (GGT, γ-GT): This enzyme is found mainly in the liver, but also in the kidneys, bile ducts and in the intestine. The determination of the GGT provides important information on diseases of the liver and biliary tract. Therefore, the GGT also belongs to the so-called "liver values". Chronic alcohol abuse leads to an increase in GGT. Elevated GGT values ​​are highly informative with regard to alcohol-related liver damage such as fatty liver disease, fatty liver hepatitis (liver inflammation), liver cirrhosis, liver failure. See Gamma GT for more information.
  • CDT (Carbohydrate Deficient Transferrin rel.): CDT consists of several different forms (isomers) of the serum iron transport protein transferrin (TF). TF itself is a blood protein produced in the liver. An increase in CDT can almost only be observed with chronic alcohol consumption. CDT is also used to prove or confirm a relapse after alcohol withdrawal therapy. See CDT for more information.

The MCV (mean cell volume) can also be used for diagnosis. It quantifies the average volume of red blood cells (erythrocytes). This value is increased with chronic alcohol abuse. Other liver values ​​such as GOT and GPT can also be determined. You can find more information using the quick search in the laboratory values ​​table.

Whom can I ask?

The first point of contact in the event of alcohol addiction is often the family doctor who, if necessary, initiates referrals. Specialized outpatient facilities (e.g. addiction counseling centers) and specialized clinics can also be contacted. For adolescents, specialists in paediatrics and child and adolescent psychiatry are the contact persons. Doctors from various disciplines and psychotherapists are involved in the diagnosis and therapy process.

Doctors, psychotherapists, outpatient and inpatient treatment and counseling options, etc. can be found using the various searches. You can also find treatment and advice options via the addiction help compass.

Here you can find information on the addiction aid compass in sign language.

How are the costs going to be covered?

The costs for the medical examination to clarify an alcohol addiction are normally covered by the social security agencies.

For information on the respective provisions, please contact your health insurance provider, which you can find on the social insurance website.

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