Symptoms of Substance Dependence

By 6 Feb 2001

Here are some of the signs and symptoms that are typically associated with substance abuse.

A maladaptive pattern of substance use, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three (or more) of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:

  1. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
    • a need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect
    • markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance

  2. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
    • the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance
    • the same (or a closely related) substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms

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

  4. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use.

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

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

  7. Substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Mar 2015
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