Diagnosing Substance Use
The DSM-5 establishes nine types of Substance-Related Disorders:
- Cannabis (e.g., marijuana)
- Opioid (e.g., heroin)
- Sedatives, Hypnotics, or Anxiolytics (e.g., valium)
- Stimulants (cocaine, methamphetamine)
*Substance use disorder does not apply to caffeine.
Regardless of the particular substance, the diagnosis of a substance use disorder is based upon a pathological set of behaviors related to the use of that substance. These behaviors fall into four main categories:
- Impaired control
- Social impairment
- Risky use
- Pharmacological indicators (tolerance and withdrawal)
If a person is experiencing withdrawal symptoms at the time they are being evaluated for treatment, they will be diagnosed with both substance use and substance withdrawal. A person needs to meet at least 2 of these criteria to be diagnosed with a substance-use disorder. The severity of addiction is determined by the number of criteria met.
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