Substance Use Disorder

Addiction is a complex brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it impacts their entire life. Addiction can be a life threatening condition depending on what the individual is addicted to.

It is widely believed that addiction includes obsessive thoughts about the substance, or process (e.g., gaming), and it takes a priority in the individuals life. People can become dependent on psychoactive chemicals (e.g., alcohol and other drugs), gambling, gaming, sex and masturbation, spending money, work, food, exercise – however, the main criterion for addiciton is that the behaviour is causing harm to the individual and they cannot stop when attempting to control, reduce or cease the behaviour.

Criteria for Substance Use Disorders

Substance use disorders span a wide variety of problems arising from substance use, and cover 11 different criteria:

  1. Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you’re meant to.
  2. Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to.
  3. Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance.
  4. Cravings and urges to use the substance.
  5. Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of substance use.
  6. Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships.
  7. Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use.
  8. Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger.
  9. Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance.
  10. Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance).
  11. Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance.