Three or more of the following must have been experienced or exhibited at some time during the previous year:

  • Difficulties in controlling substance-taking behavior in terms of its onset, termination or levels of use.

  • A strong desire or sense of compulsion to take the substance.

  • Progressive neglect of alternative pleasures or interests because of psychoactive substance use, increased amount of time necessary to obtain or take the substance or to recover from its effects.

  • Persisting with substance use despite clear evidence of overtly harmful consequences, depressive mood states consequent to heavy use, or drug related impairment of cognitive functioning.

  • Evidence of tolerance, such that increased doses of the psychoactive substance are required in order to achieve effects originally produced by lower doses.

  • A physiological withdrawal state when substance use has ceased or been reduced, as evidenced by: the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance; or use of the same (or a closely related) substance with the intention of relieving or avoiding withdrawal symptoms.

What level of use constitutes a problem depends heavily on what sort of drug a person is using.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW help a friend with a drug problem?