Diagnosing drug addiction (also called substance use disorder) requires a thorough evaluation and often includes an assessment by a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. Blood, urine or other lab tests are used to assess drug use, but they're not a diagnostic test for addiction. These tests may be used for monitoring treatment and recovery.
For diagnosis of a substance use disorder, most mental health professionals use criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose mental conditions. This manual is also used by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.
DSM-5 criteria for substance use disorder include a behavior pattern of drug use that causes significant problems and distress, regardless of what drug is used.
You may have a substance use disorder if at least two of these issues occur within a 12-month period:
Oct. 15, 2014
- You often take larger amounts of the drug over a longer period of time than you intended
- You want to cut down or quit, but haven't been successful
- You spend a good deal of time getting the drug, using the drug or recovering from the effects of the drug
- You have intense urges for the drug that block out any other thoughts
- You aren't meeting obligations and responsibilities because of your substance use
- You keep using the drug, even though you know it's causing problems in your life
- You give up or cut back important social, occupational or recreational activities because of your substance use
- You use the substance in situations that may be unsafe, such as when driving or operating machinery
- You use the substance even though you know it's causing you physical or psychological harm
- You develop tolerance, which means that the drug has less and less effect on you and you need more of the drug to get the same effect
- You have physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the drug, or you take the drug (or a similar drug) to avoid withdrawal symptoms
- Family checkup: Positive parenting prevents drug abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Weaver MF, et al. Substance use disorder: Principles for recognition and assessment in general medical care. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Substance-related and addictive disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Information about NA. Narcotics Anonymous. http://www.na.org/?ID=ResourcesforProfessionals-content. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- For those in treatment. Narcotics Anonymous. http://www.na.org/?ID=ResourcesforProfessionals-content. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Commonly abused drugs chart. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs/commonly-abused-drugs-chart. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Commonly abused prescription drugs. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs/commonly-abused-prescription-drugs-chart. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Drug facts: Understanding drug abuse and addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Akram Y, et al. Family-based interventions for substance misuse: A systemic review of systematic reviews — Protocol. Systematic Reviews. 2014;3:90.
- Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 6th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2014. http://www.psychiatryonline.org/resourceToc.aspx?resourceID=5. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Alcohol and drug addiction happens in the best of families. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Alcohol-and-Drug-Addiction-Happens-in-the-Best-of-Families/SMA12-4159. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Intervention — Tips and guidelines. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. http://www.ncadd.org/index.php/for-friends-and-family/intervention. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Karpyak VM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 27, 2014.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 23, 2014.
- Synthetic drug threats. National Conference of State Legislatures. http://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/synthetic-drug-threats.aspx. Accessed Sept. 19, 2014.
- DrugFacts: Spice ("Synthetic marijuana"). National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/spice-synthetic-marijuana. Accessed Sept. 19, 2014.
- DrugFacts: Synthetic cathinones ("Bath salts"). National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts. Accessed Sept. 19, 2014.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.