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DSM-5 Symptoms of Addiction

    DSM-5 Symptoms of Addiction

    Addiction ruins the lives of many, whether those people suffer directly from its symptoms or not.

    According to the brain disease model of addiction, addiction is a disease of chronic brain relapsing where the individual’s reward or mesolimbic pathways have been altered in a way that they become severely dependent on a substance.

    According to The Reward / Executive Function Model, alterations in the mesolimbic or reward perpetuate this addictive cycle.

    Repeated exposure to an addictive substance can forge neural pathways which lead to addictive responses.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Addiction?

    Although specific symptoms of addiction will change depending on the individual and the substance they are abusing, there are some common symptoms that are worth looking out for.

    Primary symptoms of addiction include:

    It can lead to death if left untreated.

    Secondary symptoms can affect those who aren’t even addicted.

    These include:

    Clearly, addiction is something that can affect all of us, regardless of our age, wealth, beliefs, or mental or physical health.

    What Kind Of Addictions Exist

    man with cocaine

    Addiction, when concerned with the consumption of an addictive substance (i.e. not gambling or sex addiction) is also referred to as substance use disorder.

    There are many kinds of addictions or substance use disorders.

    Alcohol use disorder, opioid use disorder (e.g. heroin), stimulant use disorder (e.g. cocaine), hallucinogen use disorder (e.g. LSD, ecstasy, ketamine, cannabis) are some of the most common forms of substance use disorders among patients at rehab.

    What makes addiction so dangerous is how the newly altered brain reward system can influence a subject’s behavioural patterns.

    Regardless of the negative effects of consuming their addictive substance, they will continue to do use to satisfy their cravings.

    Any concerns are dismissed in favour of their addictive substance.

    How Can We Diagnose Addiction Or Substance Use Disorder?

    Doctor with clipboard

    There are a range of evidence-based and multidimensional screening methods used for detecting substance use disorder.

    One of the most prominent and frequently used examples is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition).

    This is also acronymized into the DSM-5 Criteria.

    What Is The DSM-5 Criteria?


    The DSM-5 Criteria is a multidimensional screening method that helps clinicians determine the severity of a patient’s substance use disorder.

    According to the DSM-5 Criteria, there are 11 symptoms or characteristics that are associated with substance use disorder.

    The 11 symptoms of the DSM-5 Criteria are;

    • Hazardous Use: Consuming the substance in a way which has put yourself or others in danger. Examples would include passing out due to consumption, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and more.
    • Social Problems: Your substance use disorder has led to relationship breakdown and even social isolation. This is incredibly common among those suffering from substance use disorder.
    • Neglected Responsibilities: Your responsibilities and duties, whether academic, occupational or domestic, are not met because of your substance use disorder.
    • Withdrawal Symptoms: You experience discomforting withdrawal symptoms once you stop consuming your addictive substance. Withdrawal symptoms can come in the form of physical or psychological symptoms.
    • Tolerance: Your tolerance towards your substance has increased, meaning that you must consume higher amounts to feel the same effects.
    • Increase in Consumption Quantities and Frequency: You have started to consume higher amounts of your addictive substances, or you consume them more frequently.
    • Failed Attempts of Abstaining: You have tried to moderate your intake or even abstain, but you failed to do so.
    • Time Spent Consuming: How much time you spend consuming your addictive substance.
    • Physical or Psychological Problems: Your substance use disorder has led to a range of health complications, whether physical or psychological. Physical withdrawal symptoms include but aren’t limited to headaches, diarrhoea, fatigue and seizures. Psychological withdrawal symptoms can include depression, anxiety, and more.
    • Lack of Personal Interest: You have given up on many of the activities that once interested you due to your substance use disorder.
    • Cravings: You often crave your addictive substance and feel compelled to consume it once more, restarting the cycle.

    Each of these symptoms falls into one of four categories:

    • Impaired control (not being able to abstain)
    • Social problems (problems with friends or family due to the consumption of this addictive substance)
    • Risky use (consuming in high quantities or in dangerous environments)
    • Physical dependence (the associated withdrawal symptoms)

    Other frameworks may define a different set of components which make addiction what it is.

    However, many of the symptoms of the criteria ultimately remain the same.

    Using The DSM-5 Criteria To Diagnose Addiction / SUD


    If a patient was to identify themselves with one symptom, it means that they are potentially at risk of developing a substance use disorder.

    Patients that can associate themselves with two or three symptoms of the criteria are likely to be suffering from mild substance use disorder.

    Patients suffering from four or five symptoms likely suffer from a moderate form of addiction.

    If a patient is suffering from six or more items on the criteria, then it would imply that they are suffering from a severe form of substance use disorder.

    In the event of this situation, patients should seek the assistance of a drug and alcohol rehab as an inpatient as soon as they can.

    Doctors and clinicians will then determine the severity of a patient’s addiction in order to discover what kind of treatment they need.

    Other multidimensional patient assessment criteria such as the ASAM Criteria often go hand in hand with frameworks such as the DSM-5.

    This is because they specialise in assigning appropriate treatment and placements for patients suffering from addiction.

    The ASAM Criteria does this by determining the severity of the addiction and determining an appropriate and personalised treatment plan.

    How Reliable Is The DSM-5 Criteria?

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    Not only is the DSM-5 Criteria utilised and implemented by many clinicians, but it was also crafted by hundreds of mental health experts.

    It took over 60 years for the medical community to develop the DSM-5 Criteria.

    Not only that, but it is constantly under scrutiny to ensure that it is the most optimal way to diagnose patients.

    Its roots go back as long as 1952, when the DSM criteria was the primary reference and categorisation of mental disorders in the United States.

    There have been many revisions to the DSM criteria -the DSM-4 Criteria was published in 1994, and then came the DSM-5 with new revisions in 2013.

    The changes concerned the diagnosing process and the general criteria framework.

    The DSM Criteria’s purpose is to reflect our ever developing knowledge of mental disorders including substance use disorder.

    With the DSM criteria being constantly under scrutiny, we can ensure that it is one of the most optimal forms of addiction screening treatment due to its keeping up with contemporary literature regarding addiction and substance use disorder.

    What Are the Different Kinds of Treatment?


    There is a wide range of treatment options for patients.

    The results of the patient’s diagnostic assessment while referring to the DSM-5 Criteria will determine the kind of treatment that they will receive.

    The four main kinds of treatment are;

    • Outpatient Treatment
    • Intensive Outpatient Treatment
    • Inpatient Treatment
    • Intensive Inpatient Treatment

    Outpatient And Intensive Outpatient Treatment


    Patients that suffer from a mild form of addiction can undergo outpatient treatment at a local drug and alcohol rehab.

    This means that they can attend therapy and counselling sessions for a few hours per week, maintaining employment and returning home after recovery and counselling sessions.

    Intensive outpatient programmes are for patients that may be suffering from mild to moderate forms of addiction according to the DSM-5 Criteria.

    An intensive outpatient programme would require higher commitments from patients.

    They would need to spend more time in counselling sessions and they will also receive more medical support.

    Inpatient And Intensive Inpatient Treatment


    Inpatients will undergo recovery at a drug and alcohol rehab facility near their location.

    Here, they will spend around 28 days undergoing a medicated detox, pharmacological intervention, therapy sessions and relapse prevention planning.

    They will receive accommodation at a medically supported facility while receiving 24/7 care from professionals.

    Intensive inpatients require more medical supervision.

    They will also stay at a medically supported drug and alcohol rehab facility, however they will require closer supervision with 24-hour nursing care and support from medical professionals, and may stay for longer.

    This is for patients who are suffering from a severe form of addiction according to the DSM-5 Criteria.

    Find Care Near You


    If you suspect that you are suffering from an addiction or substance use disorder, you can contact us today by dialling 0800 088 66 86 if you are from the UK or you can dial +44 330 333 6197 for our international hotline.

    In the event that you are reaching out to Rehab Recovery to help a loved one who is suffering from substance use disorder, the procedure remains the same.

    During your phone call, you will undergo a health or pre admission assessment.

    While it may sound formal, it will be done in a relaxed manner, free of charge and with complete discretion.

    All that will be required is that you provide information regarding the physical and mental health of the person in question as well as their addiction history.

    A consultant psychiatrist will design an appropriate recovery programme and placement guidelines will be utilised to determine whether you need the support of a public or private rehab as an inpatient or outpatient treatment.

    No one has to face addiction alone.

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