Addiction: How will I know?

Is it a phase? How much is more than “normal”? Is it an addiction? How can I tell? To help you answer some of those questions, the American Psychiatric Association defines substance use disorders as a problematic pattern of use leading to significant impairment or distress. This is generally identifiable when at least two of the following occur within a 12-month period:

  1. Using the substance in larger amounts or for longer than intended.
  2. Desire or unsuccessful efforts to reduce or control substance use.
  3. Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance.
  4. Cravings and urges to use the substance.
  5. Recurrent substance use resulting in failure to fulfill major obligations at work, home or school.
  6. Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships.
  7. Important social, occupational or recreational activities are discontinued or reduced because of substance use.
  8. Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
  9. Continued substance use despite knowledge of a physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or made worse by the substance.
  10. Tolerance: An increased need in the amount of the substance required to achieve intoxication or desired effect OR diminished effect with use of the same amount of substance.
  11. Development of withdrawal symptoms and/or additional use of the substance or another substance to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Of course, the first step is admitting that a problem exists—this tends to be the greatest barrier. The good news is that once you’ve passed that barrier, there are effective tools to help people suffering from addictions. Qualified and reputable treatment programs, along with Alcoholics Anonymous (, Narcotics Anonymous (, and SMART Recovery ( are a few. For more information on substance use disorders, please visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

To access private treatment options, please contact Carla DiCandia, Director of Community Relations, at Luminance Recovery Center 949.482.9713. 

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