How can we tell if someone is abusing or addicted to drugs?

Criteria for Substance Dependence Diagnosis

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual - III - R

[DSM-III-R is not currently used but has historical utility.] At least three of the following are necessary; some of the symptoms of the disturbance must have persisted for at least one month or have occurred repeatedly over a longer period of time:

  • Substance is often taken in larger amounts or over longer period than intended
  • Persistent desire or one or more unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use
  • A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to get the substance (e.g., theft), taking the substance (e.g., chain smoking), or recovering from its effects
  • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced because of substance abuse
  • Continued substance use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent social, psychological, or physical problem that is caused or exacerbated by use of the substance
  • Marked tolerance: need for markedly increased amounts of the substance (> 500/ increase) in order to achieve intoxication or desired effect, or markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount
  • Characteristic withdrawal symptoms
  • Substance often taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
  • Frequent intoxication or withdrawal symptoms when expected to fulfill major role obligations or when use is physically hazardous