The University of Arizona

Levels of Illicit Drug Use and Factors Contributing to Use
Levels of Use:

There are various approaches for categorizing or classifying illicit drug use. For example, criminal justice systems often make little distinction among levels or types of use. In contrast, epidemiologists commonly distinguish between use and abuse. Clinicians generally go a step further by distinguishing among drug use, misuse, abuse, and dependence. The American Society of Addiction Medicine and related groups make a further distinction between dependence, addiction, and pseudo-addiction. These various approaches to the classification of use are discussed below.[1]



  • (1) American Psychiatric Association. Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Substance Use Disorders. Arlington, VA: APA; 2007 Apr. Report No.: 164.