According to the DSM-5, a substance use disorder (SUD) involves patterns of symptoms caused by using a substance that an individual continues taking despite its negative effects. Based on decades of research, DSM-5 points out 11 criteria that can arise from substance misuse.
Using more of a substance than intended or using it for longer than you’re meant to.

  • Trying to cut down or stop using the substance but being unable to.
  • Experiencing intense cravings or urges to use the substance.
  • Needing more of the substance to get the desired effect — also called tolerance.
  • Developing withdrawal symptoms when not using the substance.
  • Spending more time getting and using drugs and recovering from substance use.
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, work or school because of substance use.
  • Continuing to use even when it causes relationship problems.
  • Giving up important or desirable social and recreational activities due to substance use.
  • Using substances in risky settings that put you in danger.
  • Continuing to use despite the substance causing problems to your physical and mental health.

These criteria fall under four basic categories — impaired control, physical dependence, social problems and risky use. Like other illnesses substance misuse often worsens over time. The DSM-5 uses a scale to determine level of severity based upon how many of the 11 criteria pertain to the individual. One symptom might indicate that an individual is at risk. Two to three criteria point to a mild substance use disorder. Four or Five symptoms identify that an individual as a moderate substance use disorder. Six or more of the 11 criteria indicate a severe substance use disorder and notate an addiction to the used substance.
Looking For Help For You Or A Loved One
Asking for help is always the best place to start in confronting your addiction. If you are a loved one have identified any of the criteria as a concern and are interested in seeking help, it is never to late to ask. Often a simple google search will yield multiple results depending on the type of treatment you or your loved ones are looking for. Despite the research and treatment of drug and alcohol addiction being in its infancy, there is an abundance of resources to guide you and your support system in the right direction.