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Symptoms of substance use disorder can be grouped into four categories:

  • Impaired control; a craving or strong urge to use the substance, desire or failed attempts to cut down and stop substance use.
  • Social problems; substance use cause failure to complete major tasks at work, school or home: social, work or leisure activities are given up or cut back because of substance use.
  • Risky use; substance use in risky settings; continued use despite knowing there is a problem.
  • Drug effects; tolerance (need for larger amounts to get the same effect); withdrawal symptoms which are different for each substance.

The following can be used as criteria to alert you to a possible addiction or physical dependence on a drug. If you or someone close to you develop these signs, please contact us.

  1. Hazardous misuse. Using illegal substances or alcohol in a way that is dangerous to you or someone close to you. Using a legal drug for something other than what it was meant for, for longer than you should take it or in large quantities.
  2. Lack of control. An inability to slow or stop substance use, despite perhaps repeated attempts to quit using.
  3. Cravings. Compulsive, unmanageable urges to use the substance. Maybe lead to other behaviours such as lying to cover drug use or feeling justified doing whatever it takes to obtain drugs or alcohol.
  4. Time wasting. Spending excessive amounts of time seeking, taking or recovering from drug use. Perhaps withdrawing from other activities and focusing solely on substance use.
  5. Neglect of family, work or relationships. Not able to complete necessary home or work tasks and commitments; a lack of attention to own health. You may stop going to work, withdraw from family and social relationships
  6. Neglect of relationships. Continuing to use your substance of choice even when it negatively affects family relationships and friendships. This may lead to a breakdown of relationships.
  7. Withdrawing to use. Giving up the social, recreational or occupational activities you once engaged in so you can seek and use a substance of choice.
  8. Using drugs despite harm. Compulsively seeking and using drugs, despite the harmful consequences it causes.
  9. Physical or psychological consequences. Continuing drug or alcohol misuse, even when it leads to or exacerbates health problems or mental disorders.
  10. Physical tolerance. Needing more of a drug or trying different drugs or alcohol trying to get the same effect.
  11. Withdrawal symptoms. Physical or psychological discomfort and symptoms that occur when a drug wears off. The symptoms may be physically or psychologically tormenting.
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