As specified in the DSM-5, addiction, or substance abuse disorder is defined as "a problematic pattern of use of an intoxicating substance leading to clinically significant impairment or distress." Depending on the drug of choice, there are either 10 or 11 diagnostic criteria that must be met within a 12-months period.
Some of the diagnostic criteria include:
The substance is consumed in excessive amounts or over a period that is longer than was intended.
There is a significant desire to cut back, but an inability to do so or control the use of the substance.
A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance, use the substance, or recover from its effects.
Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use the substance, occurs.
Recurrent use of the substance results in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
Use of the substance continues despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of its use.
Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of use of the substance.
Use of the substance is recurrent in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
When someone has impaired control over their drug use, they may not be able to stop, even if they wish to. Drugs can cause social problems like harm to relationships with friends and loved ones, and a person may give up their favorite hobbies, instead choosing to use drugs. They may resort to buying drugs on the street, stealing money to purchase drugs, and other dangerous behaviors to fuel their addiction. And when they stop using the drug, they will likely experience physical withdrawal symptoms.
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