Criteria for Substance Use Disorders

Substance Abuse Disorders – what are they?

Substance abuse disorders can be put into 10 different classes ranging from caffeine addiction to hallucinogens, and many in between. The rewarding feeling people get is why the addiction occurs. This is when problems start to happen. People begin to neglect normal daily activities to get high. This is the point when substance abuse becomes a disorder. Not everyone is equally prone to becoming an addict. Some people have lower self-control or genetic history of addiction. This makes it more likely for drug addiction to occur. Clearly, caffeine addiction is not what we are worried about here. When someone starts using hard drugs, and it causes problems in their life, that’s when intervention is necessary.

Substance Use Disorder Criteria

Many different factors determine if a person has a substance use disorder. These can include:

  • Taking more of a substance than you should be or taking it for a more extended period than prescribed.
  • Wanting to quit using a substance but you can’t.
  • Spending too much time trying to obtain the substance or using it more than you would like.
  • A major urge to use the substance.
  • Skipping work or neglecting needs at home due to substance abuse.
  • Relationship problems that arise because of use.
  • Avoiding friends and social gatherings to use the substance.
  • Repeated use of the substance even when danger presents itself.
  • Building up a tolerance and needing more and more of the substance to get the high you want.
  • Withdrawal symptoms that are eliminated when more of the substance is taken.

Substance Use Disorder Severity

Substance Use Disorders are identified on a scale determined by how many symptoms are present. If a person notices two or three signs, the use is probably mild. If four or five symptoms are present, the person may have a moderate disorder. Anyone with six or more of the symptoms most likely has a severe substance use disorder.


Disorders of substance intoxication are when a person experiences a “high.” These can include:

  • Marijuana intoxication
  • Cocaine intoxication
  • Meth intoxication
  • Heroin intoxication
  • Acid intoxication
  • Substance intoxication delirium

Mental disorders from Substance/Medication Use

This refers to the mental problems people get when they have a substance use disorder. It is important to note that these people did not have the mental illness before abusing the substance. Serious mental illness is when someone has a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder that is diagnosed. The illness is significant enough to cause problems with the person’s daily life. These could include psychotic disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction or anxiety. When a person has both a mental health issue and a substance use disorder they are referred to as co-occurring disorders.


It is imperative that an individual gets proper treatment when a substance use disorder is recognized. Addiction is an illness, with or without the mental side effects. When an individual’s case is severe, turning to a treatment center like Delano is imperative.