Addiction Criteria – Do I have A Problem

The focus of this site is to support you in your recovery. However, it occurred to me that there may be some people that find this who are still trying to determine whether or not they need to change. Or, you might be here because you are trying to decide if a friend or family member has a problem. If you are in the process of thinking about whether or not you want to embark on a recovery path it might be helpful to know some the Addiction Criteria used to determine if you have a substance use disorder.

Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is the term used in the DSM 5, which is the manual that healthcare professionals use to identify if someone meets the criteria for a diagnosis. A SUD is classified as mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how many of the diagnostic criteria you meet.

I will be using the word substance, but if your addiction is a behavior such as gambling, shopping, or eating just substitute behavior for substance in the following symptoms. I’ve broken the criteria down into categories.

Loss of Control

Taking more of the substance than intended, or using for longer periods of time than intended. (Do you intend to have just 2 or 3 drinks and find that you stay until the bar closes down.)

Attempts to quit or cut back in the past and struggling, being unsuccessful.

Spending a lot of time thinking about using, or thinking about ways to get the substance. (Or when you can go shopping next, or make your next fast food run, where you can get money to gamble.)

Negative Social Impact

Your substance use has interfered with your obligations to others or to your job.

You continue to use even though it has created issues in your interpersonal relationships.

You stop engaging in activities you use to enjoy, hobbies, time with friends and family, to use or get high.

Risky or Hazardous Behavior

You continue to use even if you have a physical or mental health condition that will become worse with use, such as liver damage or depression.

Your use puts you in physically dangerous situations such as driving under the influence, blackouts, alcohol poisoning.

Physiological Criteria

You have developed tolerance, you need to use more of the substance to get the same effect. (With behavioral conditions it could mean spending more while shopping, or betting larger amounts of money when gambling)

You experience withdrawal symptoms when coming down and may take more of the substance to avoid them.

You experience cravings or intense urges to use.

Determining A Diagnosis

If you have experienced 2 or more of the criteria in a 12-month period you meet the diagnosis for a Substance Use Disorder. If you meet 2 or 3 of the criteria, you have a mild substance use disorder. 4 or 5 is considered moderate, and if you meet 6 or more criteria, you have a severe substance use disorder.

Look at this as information, the more knowledge you have the better choices you can make. Meeting even 2 of the criteria is affecting your life negatively, is that what you want for yourself?

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