Symptoms of Addiction

​Recurrent use of a substance or activity leading to impairment or distress is the sine qua non of an addictive disorder. The diagnosis is based on the presence of at least two of a number of features:

  • The substance or activity is used in larger amounts or for a longer period of time than was intended.
  • There is a desire to cut down on use or unsuccessful efforts to do so.
  • Pursuit of the substance or activity or recovery from its use consumes a significant amount of time.
  • There is a craving or strong desire to use the substance or activity.
  • Use of the substance or activity disrupts role obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Use of the substance or activity continues despite the social or interpersonal problems it causes.
  • Participation in important social, work, or recreational activities drops or stops.
  • Use occurs in situations where it is physically risky.
  • Use continues despite knowing it is causing or exacerbating physical or psychological problems.
  • Tolerance occurs, indicated either by need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve the desired effect or markedly diminished effect of the same amount of substance.
  • Withdrawal occurs, manifest either in the presence of physiological withdrawal symptoms or the taking of a related substance to block them.

The severity of the condition is gauged by the number of symptoms present. The presence of two to three symptoms generally indicates a mild condition; four to five symptoms indicate a moderate disorder. When six or more symptoms are present, the condition is considered severe.

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