What is Substance Abuse Disorder?

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Substance abuse disorder, more commonly known as substance use disorder (SUD), is a medical condition in which an individual’s consumption or use of alcohol or drugs causes significant impairment, usually resulting in health issues and/or inability to take care of important personal, educational, and professional responsibilities.


Mild, Moderate, and Severe Substance Use Disorders

Experts in the field of mental health no longer place all substance abuse disorders into one category; instead, they now classify these disorders based upon their level of severity, with three levels of classification: mild, moderate, and severe.

Experts also have divided known drugs into 10 different classes, which include:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Cannabis
  • Hallucinogens (general)
  • Phencyclidine (or similarly acting arylcyclohexylamines and other hallucinogens)
  • Inhalants
  • Opioids
  • Sedatives, hypnotics, and anxiolytics
  • Stimulants (amphetamine-type drugs, cocaine, and other stimulants)
  • Tobacco

Below, as an example, we’ll look at the difference between mild, moderate, and severe opioid use disorders. The system used to determine the severity of a substance use disorder is the same for each of the 10 class of drugs, with the exception of alcohol, which uses the same checklist of symptoms but has specific, additional criteria for the amounts of use that classify as mild, moderate, and severe.


Mild, Moderate, and Severe Opioid Use Disorders

The DSM-5, considered the universal authority for psychiatric diagnoses in the United States, provides a checklist that can be used to determine if a patient is suffering from opioid use disorder, and if so, the severity of their disorder.  

The checklist contains a series of 11 statements including:

  • Patient takes larger amounts of opioids over a longer period of time than intended
  • Patient faces cravings or strong desires to use the drugs
  • Recurrent opioid use results in failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home
  • Tolerance to opioids increases, less effects are obtained by the same amount of medication or drugs
  • Patient keeps taking opioids to avoid withdrawal

Using the checklist, medical professionals can then sort a patient into one of three categories:

  • Mild: 2-3 symptoms
  • Moderate: 4-5 symptoms
  • Severe: 6 or more symptoms


The Importance of Substance Abuse Treatment

With U.S. government data suggesting that nearly 24 million Americans are likely suffering from substance use disorders, it’s clear that drug abuse is a major problem in the United States. The bigger problem however, may not be that so many Americans have addiction problems– but that so few of them are getting the help they need.

Only around 3 million Americans each year actually receive professional substance abuse treatment for substance use disorders– and even less get help at an inpatient or outpatient addiction rehab center or addiction treatment center, which are usually considered the most effective forms of treatment for serious drug addiction problems.


Choose New Life, An Addiction Rehab Center That Cares

Whether you’re facing mild, moderate, or severe substance abuse problems– or you’re concerned that a close friend, family member, or loved one is putting his or her health at risk by continually abusing drugs or alcohol, help is much closer than you might think.

At New Life Addiction Treatment Center, we’re proud to say that we’ve helped thousands of patients take their first steps on the journey to sobriety– allowing them lay the foundation for fulfilling, joyous, and healthy lives.

If you’re looking for a community-based addiction rehab center that can provide professional, caring, and compassionate substance abuse treatment, call New Life today at (855) 658-0035.