Abuse of alcohol or a substance (such as cocaine, nicotine, marijuana, etc.) is generally characterized by a maladaptive pattern of alcohol or substance use leading to significant impairment or distress, as manifested by 1 or more of the following, occurring within a one year period:
- Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to substance use; substance-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household)
- Recurrent alcohol or substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by substance use)
- Recurrent alcohol or substance-related legal problems (e.g., arrests for alcohol or substance-related disorderly conduct)
- Continued alcohol or substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol or substance use (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication, physical fights)
The symptoms must also have never met the criteria for alcohol/substance dependence for this class of substance or alcohol.
***NOTE: This condition is not a disorder recognized within the DSM-5, the 2013 update of the diagnostic manual. This page is here on PsychCentral for historical purposes only. See revised symptoms of substance use disorders.