The University of Arizona
 

Levels of Illicit Drug Use and Factors Contributing to Use
Levels of Dependency:
Categories of Dependence

“Substance Abuse” as defined by DSM-IV-TR criteria is as follows:[1,2]

  1. A maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by one (or more) of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:
    1. Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to substance use; substance-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household)
    2. Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by substance use)
    3. Recurrent substance-related legal problems (e.g., arrests for substance-related disorderly conduct)
    4. Continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication, physical fights)
  1. The symptoms have never met the criteria for substance dependence for this class of substance.

“Substance Dependence” as defined by DSM-IV-TR criteria is as follows:[1,2]

A maladaptive pattern of substance use, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three (or more) of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:

  1. Tolerance as defined by either of the following:
    1. a need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect
    2. markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance
  2. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
    1. the characteristic withdrawal symptom for the substance
    2. the same (or a closely related) substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
  3. The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended
  4. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance abuse
  5. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance (e.g., visiting multiple doctors or driving long distances), use the substance (e.g., chain-smoking), or recover from its effects
  6. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance abuse
  7. The substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance (e.g., current cocaine use despite recognition of cocaine-induced depression, or continued drinking despite recognition that an ulcer was made worse by alcohol consumption)

The diagnosis should specify “With Physiological Dependence” (either item 1 or 2 is present) or “Without Physiological Dependence” (neither item 1 nor 2 is present).

 

References

  • (1) American Psychiatric Association. Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Substance Use Disorders. Arlington, VA: APA; 2007 Apr. Report No.: 164.
  • (2) Task Force on DSM-IV. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2000.