The Most Common Criteria For Substance Use Disorder

Please note that the information on this page is meant to inform and educate, and is not to be used in place of a diagnosis from a doctor.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, or the DSM-V or DSM 5, is the most current version of the American Psychiatric Association’s text on the names, symptoms, and diagnostics of every recognized mental illness, including substance addictions. The DSM 5 recognizes substance abuse disorders related to the use of the following 10 classes of drugs: alcohol; caffeine; cannabis; hallucinogens; inhalants; opioids; sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics; stimulants; tobacco/nicotine; and other or unknown substances.

Addiction to substances is connected to the brain’s reward system. The rewarding feeling, or the high, that addicts get from using drugs may be so enticing that it replaces normal activities, obligations, behaviors, and interests. Not all people are automatically or equally vulnerable to developing problems with substance abuse, and some people have lower self-control that makes them more likely to develop an addiction after being exposed to drugs.

A person may not exhibit all of the following characteristics. Two or three symptoms indicate a slight substance use disorder; four or five symptoms indicate a moderate substance use disorder, and six or more symptoms indicate a severe substance use disorder. If you suspect that you or someone you know has a substance use disorder, get professional help immediately by seeing a doctor or finding a substance abuse treatment center.

There are 11 criteria used to recognize substance use disorders:

  1. Taking more of the substance or for a longer than prescribed.
  2. Attempts and failures at cutting back or abstaining from the substance.
  3. Large amounts of time spent obtaining, using, or recovering from use of the substance.
  4. Cravings and impulses to use the substance.
  5. Falling behind or failing at work, home, or school because of substance use.
  6. Failing to cease use of the substance, even when it creates problems in relationships.
  7. Replacing work, hobbies, and socializing with substance use.
  8. Using substances multiple times, despite the risk or danger.
  9. Continuing to use even when you know you have a mental or physical health condition that can be exacerbated by the use of the substance.
  10. Increased tolerance of the substance.
  11. The manifestation of withdrawal symptoms if you do not use the substance.