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:
Dec. 05, 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
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- 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.
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- 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.
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