Do You Have a Substance Use Disorder?

Do you recognize these signs in yourself or a loved one?

You may have wondered if you have a problem. Often, the signs are subtle at first. Perhaps you’re drinking more often, or you have to drink more to feel the same buzz. Perhaps your weekend drinking or drug use has escalated to three or four days now instead.

Sound familiar?

Substance use disorder (SUD) is the clinical term used in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). The DSM-5 is the handbook clinicians and health care providers use to diagnose SUDs and other psychiatric conditions. According to the DSM-5, SUDs apply to the following 10 drug classes:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • tobacco
  • sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics
  • hallucinogens
  • inhalants
  • cannabis
  • stimulants
  • opioids
  • phencyclidine (PCP) and related drugs
Marijuana by Gras Grun

Diagnostic Criteria for Substance Use Disorders

Therefore, someone with problematic heroin use who meets the DSM’s SUD criteria would be diagnosed with an opioid use disorder, or a heroin use disorder. Likewise, someone with problematic alcohol use who meets the DSM criteria would be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. So, opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder each represent one type of SUD.

The SUD criteria is similar for all drug classes. For example, here is the DSM-5 criteria for alcohol use disorder:

Adapted from the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5, 2013

Where to Find Help

If you or a loved one identify with the criteria above, please know you are not alone. Help is available. The first step is to reach out to a substance use counselor or other mental health provider, who can meet with you to conduct an assessment and discuss your options.

Below is a list of recovery resources for families, friends, and people struggling with drugs and alcohol. You can also use the treatment finder tool from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which allows you to search providers by ZIP code.

supporting loved ones through mental health and substance use disorders
Support by the National Cancer Institute

Drug and Alcohol Support Resources

Support / Resources for Family and Friends

Crisis Hotlines

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