Definitions of Addiction

Drug Use, Drug Abuse, and Drug Addiction (If you NEED HELP WITH YOUR OR A LOVED ONE's ADDICTION, please CALL toll-free (872) 666-9868 - compassionate people are waiting for your call right now ! )

Drug addiction, formerly known as substance dependence (American Psychiatric Association, 1994), is a chronically relapsing disorder that is characterized by:

  1. A compulsion to seek and take a drug,
  2. Loss of control in limiting intake, and
  3. Emergence of a negative emotional state (e.g., dysphoria, anxiety, irritability) when access to the drug is prevented.

The occasional but limited use of an abusable drug is clinically distinct from escalated drug use, the loss of control over limiting drug intake, and the emergence of chronic compulsive drug seeking that characterize addiction. Historically, three types of drug use have been delineated:

  1. Occasional, controlled, or social use,
  2. Drug abuse or harmful use, and
  3. Drug addiction as characterized as either Substance Dependence (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition[DSM-IV]) or Dependence (see below, and Tables 1.1 and 1.2).

TABLE 1.1

DSM-5, DSM-IV, and ICD-10 Diagnostic Criteria for Abuse and Dependence


TABLE 1.2

Estimated Number and Percentage of Persons of the US Population Aged 12 and Older (N = 258 Million) Who Ever Used Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, Cocaine, Heroin, or Prescription Opioids, the Number and Percentage Who Used these Drugs in the Last Year, the Number and Percentage Who Ever Showed Dependence (DSM-IV Criteria; See Text) in the Last Year, and the Number and Percentage Who Showed Abuse or Dependence (DSM-5 Criteria; See Text) in the Last Year

*There is no abuse category for cigarettes, so the third and fourth columns of the table are identical.

If you NEED HELP WITH YOUR OR A LOVED ONE's ADDICTION, please CALL toll-free (872) 666-9868 - compassionate and caring people are waiting for your call right now!

Data from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2011

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