Substance use disorder (SUD) is the term used in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to covers the mental health conditions previously known as substance abuse, addiction, dependency, and so on.1,2
SUDs can be named according to the substance or type of substance (e.g. alcohol use disorder, fentanyl use disorder, club drug use disorder, etc.). Additionally, they could be classed according to their severity (mild, moderate, or severe) which is determined by how many diagnostic criteria a clinician deems applicable in a specific case.1
As with any illness, only a qualified doctor can make an official SUD diagnosis. However, laypeople can make reasonable assumptions about whether or not they or someone they’re close to has a problem with their substance misuse.1,3,4
Here we’ll show some of the ways you can spot a potential issue with substance misuse. If you suspect an SUD, please get in touch with a psychiatric professional immediately.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends using the DSM-5 criteria to check for signs of a possible substance use disorder. If the check is on another person, you may choose to talk to them first and tell them your intent so that they can provide feedback for the assessment.1,3,4
Below are the 11 standard SUD criteria in the DSM-5. More than one item applicable in the past 12 months may be an indication of a substance use disorder and should be cause for immediate examination by a psychiatrist. Four or more may mean a moderate or severe SUD:1
If more than one of the criteria above applies, please seek the help of a qualified mental health professional.
In addition to the DSM-5 SUD criteria, there are also other tests that are designed for laypeople, as pre-screening tools for trained clinicians, or with a specific purpose other than simply identifying a potential SUD. These include but are not limited to the following:5
If you have concerns that you or someone in your home has a problem with drugs or alcohol, you don’t necessarily need to complete a specific pre-screening tool before you go to a doctor.3
If you know that you are using drugs or alcohol heavily, you can just directly go to a doctor for screening and diagnostics. If you’re concerned about someone else you know, you can check for these signs before getting in touch with a medical professional:3,4
Finding illicit drugs.
While these may not necessarily indicate a substance use disorder, they may also be a sign of other issues, such as a physical or other psychiatric illness. In any case, finding any of these signs may be reason enough to seek professional help.
Boston Drug Treatment Centers offers access to accredited SUD treatment and rehabilitation programs in the Greater Boston area. Call (617) 517-6448 to find options for drug and alcohol treatment that meet your unique recovery needs.
For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, our calls are confidential and are available for 24/7 help.
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If you wish to explore additional treatment options or connect with a specific rehab center, you can: browse top-rated listings, visit our homepage, or visit SAMHSA, at www.samhsa.gov, or by calling 800-662-HELP. You may also contact The Florida Department of Children and Family Services at https://www.myflfamilies.com/