substance use disorder (SUD)Last updated
If a person’s use of a substance affects their quality of life severely enough, it may meet the criteria for substance use disorder (SUD). Someone with SUD may have overwhelming cravings for a substance and regularly consume more than they intended. They may spend so much time using it that they neglect their work responsibilities, social life, hobbies, and basic self-care. Someone with a substance use disorder often has an addiction to, tolerance of, and dependence on a drug all at once.
|Addiction||When someone repeatedly uses a drug despite negative consequences and has difficulty stopping.|
|Tolerance||When someone needs increasing amounts of a drug to feel the same effects.|
|Dependence||When someone relies on a drug to alleviate symptoms or avoid withdrawal.|
When discussing substance use in general, the term substance use disorder can be used. If discussing problematic use of a particular substance, specifics are helpful (e.g., opioid use disorder). The term addictive disorder generally refers to non-drug-related addictions.
- DSM-5 Fact Sheets (American Psychiatric Association)
- Diagnosis Reference Guide (Contra Costa Behavioral Health)
Substance use disorder is a diagnosis for problematic substance use. When discussing substance use in general, the term substance use disorder can be used. If discussing problematic use of a particular substance, mentioning the substance (e.g., opioid use disorder) is more precise.