Substance Use

Substance Use Disorder DSM-5

DSM-5 book on the shelf

Table of Contents

Get Help Now

check insurance
Check your insurance by using our Online Form
call us
Talk to someone now.
Call (855) 430-9439

Defining Substance Use Disorder With the DSM-5

Professionals use the DSM-5 criteria set by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to diagnose a substance use disorder, including alcohol use disorder. Learn more about the APA Substance Use Disorder DSM-5 and how to seek help for you or a loved one struggling with addiction.

Break free from the grip of addiction with Zinnia Health, where our treatment approaches align with the DSM-5 guidelines. Our compassionate team, well-versed in the latest research, is just a call away at (855) 430-9439

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us

What Is a Substance Use Disorder?

A substance use disorder (SUD) can cause significant impairment in a person’s daily life, affecting their physical and psychological well-being. It can create numerous complications for individuals struggling with this condition.

The reality is troubling. Many people dealing with SUDs also battle other mental disorders.

Examples of substances that people can be addicted to include:

What Is the DSM-5?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition helps psychiatrists and other clinicians determine if someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Its dimensional approach, cultural sensitivity, incorporation of lifespan development, and emphasis on functional impairment contribute to a more accurate and holistic understanding of mental disorders.

The DSM-5 helps ensure consistent diagnoses, promotes effective treatment strategies, and ultimately improves the lives of individuals struggling with mental health conditions.

The APA extensively reviewed and updated diagnostic criteria based on new evidence, ensuring that the manual reflects the current understanding of mental disorders. This dynamic approach allows for ongoing revisions and improvements as knowledge and research progress.

The Magic Number: 11 Symptoms

The DSM-5 outlines 11 specific symptoms related to Substance Use Disorders, which are divided into four broad categories: Impaired Control, Social Impairment, Risky Use, and Pharmacological Criteria.

  • Impaired Control: This category covers four symptoms, namely using more of the substance than intended, wanting or trying to cut down but failing, spending excessive time on acquiring, using, or recovering from the substance, and intense cravings for the substance.
  • Social Impairment: The three symptoms include neglecting major responsibilities to use the substance, ongoing use despite social or relationship problems, and foregoing important activities.
  • Risky Use: The two symptoms in this category are repeated use in hazardous situations and persistent use despite known physical or psychological harm.
  • Pharmacological Criteria: The final two symptoms revolve around the physical aspects of substance use, which are tolerance and withdrawal.

Severity Spectrum: Mild, Moderate, and Severe

Substance use disorders can range from mild substance use disorders to moderate substance use disorders to severe substance use disorders.

In the DSM-5, the gravity of substance use disorders is gauged by tallying the number of symptoms displayed by an individual.

This nuanced understanding of severity offers clinicians a concrete scale to assess the extent of the problem, serving as a foundation for creating individual treatment plans.

Mental Disorders Associated With SUDs

If you think SUD exists as an isolated problem, think again.

A significant number of individuals struggling with addiction have co-existing psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety disorders or severe depression.

This dual diagnosis requires comprehensive care that addresses both aspects simultaneously for effective recovery.

Tackling Dual Diagnosis in Treatment Plans

Navigating through a world where you have to fight battles on two fronts — addiction and another mental illness — demands specialized attention from healthcare providers.

The complexities involved require tailored treatment plans focusing on each aspect individually while recognizing the importance of treating both throughout the process.

The Impact of Substance Abuse on Social Functioning

Substance misuse isn’t just a personal issue. It stretches beyond to impact social functioning and create interpersonal problems.

The Role of Illicit Drugs and Alcohol Abuse

Substance-related disorders are often linked with illicit drugs or alcohol abuse. Substances of this kind can bring about serious, lasting consequences.

Opioid misuse, for example, can transform the landscape of an individual’s life dramatically and swiftly. Once ensnared in the vicious cycle of opioid dependence, users may find their relationships fraying, careers stalling, and health deteriorating.

Opioids can erode the fabric of one’s life, leaving behind a path strewn with lost opportunities, damaged relationships, and a host of health issues. The user becomes trapped in a cycle of chasing the next high while their world collapses around them, illustrating the devastating effects of opioid abuse.

Meanwhile, alcohol, often seen as a socially acceptable substance, can be equally destructive. The menace of alcohol misuse is insidious, slowly and stealthily inflicting damage. It can fracture families, strain friendships, disrupt workplaces, and destabilize communities.

Picture the social drinker who gradually becomes reliant on alcohol. Over time, the misuse escalates, leading to frequent intoxication.

This misuse can escalate to absenteeism at work, leading to job loss, or to neglecting family responsibilities, causing relationship strains. It can cause health issues, legal troubles, and financial ruin.

Recognizing Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder

The DSM-5 outlines four categories that symptoms fall into: 

  • Impaired control over drug use
  • Social problems due to usage
  • Risky consumption patterns
  • Physiological effects like withdrawal or tolerance

Impaired Control Over Drug Use

Mild substance dependence can often escalate to severe disorders as users lose control over their intake.

Social Problems Due to Usage

Addiction can cause significant disruption in personal relationships and work performance, impacting overall social functioning.

Risky Consumption Patterns

A person with SUD may continue using substances despite being aware of physical harm or worsening psychological conditions.

The Effect of Withdrawal Symptoms on the User’s Life And Health

If you’re wondering why people don’t just quit drugs and alcohol when they become a problem, meet withdrawal symptoms.

Terrifying experiences such as nausea, vomiting, sweating, chills, and muscle aches or cramps are common when someone tries reducing dosage or quitting drugs altogether, especially for people addicted to drugs such as opioids.

Being able to recognize these signs early could mean quicker access to treatment facilities.

But what happens if an individual has not one but two mental health concerns? Let’s delve deeper into co-existing conditions next.

Co-Occurring Disorders With Substance Use Disorder

If you’re having difficulties with a SUD, it’s common to also have other psychological issues.

Simultaneously managing multiple mental health issues can make the recovery process more difficult.

Treatment Is Possible and Necessary

No matter how daunting this might sound, remember there are treatment options available for those struggling with SUDs alongside mental illnesses such as personality disorders.

Residential treatment facilities offer intensive care programs focused on tackling both physical dependency and psychological challenges simultaneously. Plus, outpatient medication management strategies are designed around individual needs — help is out there.

Experience a holistic approach to addiction recovery with Zinnia Health, incorporating the evidence-based principles of the DSM-5. Our comprehensive programs, tailored to individual needs, can help you reclaim your life. Call (855) 430-9439 now, and let us empower you toward a future free from addiction.

Substance Use Disorder Treatment Options

For those suffering from SUDs, various treatments are available depending on the severity and frequency of substance use as well as other individual circumstances. The right approach often depends on the severity and type of addiction.


Inpatient detox and rehab are particularly beneficial for those with moderate and severe disorders who need medical assistance during withdrawal. These options help manage withdrawal symptoms effectively and safely under professional supervision.

A long-term stay in such facilities can be instrumental in changing behavior patterns that contribute to drug dependence-related conditions opioid abuse creates.


Outpatient therapy is an effective way to treat mild substance issues and certain substance-induced disorders, such as anxiety, without disrupting daily routines.

Medication-assisted treatments such as methadone or buprenorphine for opioid addictions are available to treat mild substance issues without disrupting daily routines.

Other approaches include:

Coping With Stigma Associated With Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders

It’s no secret that stigma — social disapproval and rejection — often shadows mental illness and substance use disorders. This unfortunate reality can deter individuals from seeking the help they desperately need.

Support for Friends and Family Of Addicts

If you’re a friend or family member of someone struggling with addiction, know this: You are not alone.

Al-Anon, for instance, offers invaluable resources specifically designed to help those affected by a loved one’s alcohol abuse. Nar-Anon Family Groups provide support networks catering to families dealing with drug-dependence-related conditions.

Break Free From Addiction

Substance Use Disorder DSM 5 is a complex, multi-faceted condition.

It’s not just about the uncontrolled use of substances. It’s also about the impact on daily life and social functioning. The impact permeates families, friendships, workplaces, and entire communities with consequences such as strained relationships, financial instability, legal troubles, declining physical and mental health, and diminished overall well-being.

The DSM-5’s approach towards substance use disorders holds tremendous importance in the fields of mental health and addiction recovery. By providing a clear, comprehensive set of criteria, it offers professionals a solid base for diagnosis, planning treatment, and predicting outcomes.

Moreover, its focus on severity and specific substance types underscores the individuality of each person’s experience with addiction, thus promoting personalized treatment strategies.

Break free from the grip of addiction with Zinnia Health, where our treatment approaches align with the DSM-5 guidelines. We also offer access to recreational activities such as fitness and yoga. Our compassionate team, well-versed in the latest research, is just a call away at (855) 430-9439

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us