I really hope part 1 of this blog made your understanding of addiction clearer. In the second part of this blog I will briefly discuss what criteria needs to be present to diagnose an addiction and what steps you can take if you think you have developed one.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 is used by most clinicians and lists 11 criteria that need to be present for a substance abuse disorder/ addiction to be diagnosed:

  • Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer periods of time.

  • Spending a lot of time getting, consuming, or recovering from use of the substance.

  • Being unable to reduce or stop using the substance.

  • Cravings, compulsions and urges to use the substance.

  • Unable to do what you should at home, work, or school, because of substance use.

  • Ongoing use, even though it is causing problems in relationships.

  • Giving up recreational, social or professional activities because of substance use.

  • Repeatedly using substances even though it puts you in dangerous situations.

  • Continuing to use, even when you have a physical or psychological problem that may have been caused or made worse by substance abuse.

  • Needing increasing amounts of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance)

  • Withdrawal symptoms, which is eased by taking more of the substance.

If you are concerned about your drug or alcohol use it is important to have a look at what’s going on for you. Recognising the symptoms of addiction in yourself is the first step and the best way to find out is to complete an assessment. This usually involves completing a questionnaire with an addiction counsellor where you also discuss the questions as you go along. The questions focus on your history of substance abuse, how and when it started, how it has progressed and impacted on your life.

An assessment can either diagnose or rule out a substance abuse disorder. When you know where you stand it’s a starting point to work from. Maybe you need to be more aware of why you use and what your triggers are, maybe you need to look at reducing the harm caused by your substance abuse. Perhaps you require detox and need to consider abstinence. An assessment will also gather information on your mental and physical wellbeing and how it is being affected. Maybe you suffer from depression or anxiety and need support from your GP or psychiatrist also. From your assessment your counsellor will develop a treatment plan and discuss options and recommendations with you. (It’s important to know you have options no matter how bad things have become) Often just knowing your diagnosis is a start to making changes in your life. It’s essential to mention that you can withdraw from the process at any time. You always have choices!

For information on my addiction counselling service click  here