image by Klaus Post (lic)The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (currently the fourth edition, text-revision) is the standard reference against which all mental disorders (substance use disorders included) are made. The criteria involved for making a formal Substance Abuse diagnosis is as follows:
- The patient shows . . .A maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by one (or more) of the following, occuring in a 12 month 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 the household).
- Recurrent 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 substance-related legal problems (e.g., arrests for substance-related disorderly conduct)
- Continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication, physical fights)
- The symptoms have never met the criteria for Substance Dependence for this class of substance.
Only a doctor can make a formal diagnosis of substance abuse or substance dependance.
Criteria summarized from:
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition, text revision Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.