Addiction can be interpreted in different ways. Learn how The Recovery Village defines addiction and the common symptoms associated with substance abuse.

Addiction is a behavioral disorder, characterized by a pattern of behaviors which may include impaired control, compulsive use despite negative consequences to social, mental or physical well-being, the need for greater amounts of a substance to achieve the same effect, and symptoms of withdrawal after use.

Clinical diagnosis based on criteria provided by the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5) and World Health Organization (ICD-10). Addiction is distinct from dependence, which is the body’s normal response to the use of a substance, and levels may range from mild to moderate to severe. Mild substance use disorder in DSM-5 requires 2-3 symptoms being present out of the following 11:

  1. Out of Control – Experience periods of drinking that were more or longer than intended.
  2. Inability to Stop – Want to cut down or stop, but couldn’t.
  3. Time – Spend a lot of time drinking, or recovering from drinking.
  4. Obsession – Spend a lot of time thinking about driking, or otherwise can’t think of anything else.
  5. Causing Problems – Issues at home, work, or school cause by substance abuse.
  6. Won’t Stop – Won’t stop substance use, even though it’s causing negative issues at home, work, or school.
  7. Stop Other Activities – Replace other activities you once enjoyed with drinking or substance use.
  8. Physical Danger – Substance abuse has put you in situations that were unsafe, including risks to your life, or another person’s life.
  9. Health Issues – Continue to drink despite health issues, including anxiety and depression.
  10. Developed Tolerance – Must use more of the substance in order to get the same high.
  11. Withdrawal Symptoms – After coming down from a high, experienced withdrawal symptoms, which could include trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?

Other Definitions of Addiction

The following organizations offer insight into what addiction is:

  • The American Academy of Pain Medicine
  • The American Pain Society
  • The American Society of Addiction Medicine

Factors that Affect Addiction

Factors that influence the development and manifestation of addiction include:

  • genetic
  • psychosocial
  • environmental factors
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.