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Substance Dependence

Becoming dependent on a substance is when one feels compelled to continue using it and finds it hard to stop despite the fact that using this substance causes significant problems. To be diagnosed with Substance Dependence, a person must experience three or more of the following situations at some point within the same one-year period:

  1. The person develops tolerance to the substance, meaning that they need to keep increasing the amount that they consume in order to experience the same effects, or that over time they feel less and less of an effect despite using the same amount of the substance.
  2. The person experiences certain withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the substance, or they use the substance in order to relieve or prevent the withdrawal symptoms. (See this site's descriptions of the individual substances for details of each one's typical withdrawal symptoms).
  3. The substance is taken in larger amounts or over longer periods of time than was intended.
  4. The person would like to control or reduce the substance use, and may make efforts to do so, but these efforts are unsuccessful.
  5. The person spends a great deal of time and energy in order to obtain the substance.
  6. Important social, occupational or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of the substance use.
  7. The person continues to use the substance despite the fact that it is causing persistent or recurring medical or psychological problems.


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Substance Abuse