Signs & Symptoms

  • Substance use disorders are classified as mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how many of the diagnostic criteria you meet. The 11 DSM-5 criteria for a substance use disorder includes:
    • Hazardous use: You’ve used the substance in ways that are dangerous to yourself and/or others. I.e., overdosed, driven while under the influence, or blacked out.
    • Social or interpersonal problems related to use: Your substance use has caused relationship problems or conflicts with others.
    • Neglected major roles to use: You’ve failed to meet your responsibilities at work, school, or home because of your substance use.
    • Withdrawal: When you’ve stopped using the substance, you’ve experienced withdrawal symptoms.
    • Tolerance: You’ve built up a tolerance to the substance so that you must use more to get the same effect.
    • https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm
  • Most disorders start with experimental use of a substance and progress to occasional social use. For others, use becomes more frequent.
  • The risk of developing a disorder and how fast a person becomes dependent varies by substance. Some substances have a higher risk and cause dependency more quickly than others.
  • As a person begins to misuse substances, they require more frequent use or larger doses of the substance to get high. They may need the substance just to feel normal.
  • As their substance use increases, it becomes more difficult to go without, and attempts to stop using may cause intense cravings and make them feel sick.
  • There are many signs, both physical and behavioral, that indicate substance misuse. While there are different manifestations for different substances, there are some general indications that a person is misusing; including mood swings, withdrawal from family and friends, a marked change in personal grooming, a loss of interest in their favorite activities, and changes in sleep patterns.