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Substance Use Disorder


Substance Use Disorder (SUD) - what used to be called substance abuse or substance dependence- is a condition that is related to the misuse or abuse of a substance, including alcohol, cannabis, nicotine, opioids, inhalants, hallucinogens, amphetamines, cocaine, and sedatives. To be diagnosed with SUD, a person must meet the criteria outlined below. The severity of SUD - mild, moderate, or severe- is based on the number of symptoms the person is experiencing. Any of these symptoms are a cause for concern; even a mild disorder can lead to health issues or problems at home, work, or school.


A person with SUD may behave in the following way:

  • Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than expected

  • Difficulty stopping or cutting down despite effort

  • Having cravings to use the substance

  • Spending a substantial amount of time getting, using, or recovering from the effects of the substance

  • Difficulty meeting obligations at home, work, or school due to substance use or the aftereffects

  • Continued use of the substance despite the trouble it causes with family or friends

  • Giving up or cutting back on important or interesting activities because of substance use

  • Continued use of the substance even when it has led to physical or psychological problems

  • Engaging in unsafe activities (driving, use of machinery, etc) while under the influence of the substance

  • Progressively increasing the dose of the substance to feel the desired effect (building up a tolerance)

  • Withdrawal symptoms - such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating - when the effects of the substance wear off

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