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Substance Abuse Definition

Defined as: A destructive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant (social, occupational, medical) impairment or distress, recognized by 3 or more of the following in the same 12 month period:


Need for  increased amounts of the substance (alcohol/drugs) to achieve intoxification/high

The individual suffers withdrawal symptoms within several hours to a few days after a reduction in the amount of the substance taken over a prolonged period of time:

  • sweating
  • hand/body tremors
  • nausea or vomiting
  • agitation
  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • hallucinations or illusions
  • seizures

The individual takes the substance to relieve or avoid the withdrawal symptoms.

The individual tries to cut down or quit taking the substance, but can't.

A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance and/or to recover from its effects.

The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than was intended.

The individual continues to take the substance despite knowing that it's having a significant or worsening impact on their psychological/physical condition. (e.g., drinking, knowing that their ulcer condition is being worsened)

Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use.