Substance use disorder (SUD) is an insidious disease. Taking on many different faces and characteristics, it can be difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat. Are there differences between substance abuse, substance dependence, and substance use disorder?
With so many ways to present itself – and each one wreaking havoc in its victim’s life — does it matter what we name it? Honestly, it does matter. Your treatment success hinges on the right diagnosis and the right treatment protocol. Yet, understanding the variances of each type can have a tremendous impact on how your clinician moves forward.
From Substance Abuse to Substance Use Disorder
Newer term classifications combine substance abuse and substance dependence into a single term, Substance Use Disorder. It’s now measured on a continuum from mild to severe. Also, they view each substance as a separate disorder, with its own diagnostic requirements and scale of severity. It is these changes that make a diagnosis more complex.
For instance, in the past, a professional diagnosed a substance if a single symptom was present. Today’s diagnostic procedure requires 2-3 symptoms (form a listing of 11) to be present to make the same diagnosis. This should help clinicians better match a patient’s symptoms with their experience, thus improving the level of treatment success.
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New Term Guides Treatment Protocols
Measuring substance use disorder has taken a new turn with changes made in the DSM-5. Furthermore, they offer clinicians more guidance in making the proper diagnoses and establishing a successful treatment plan. By combining the terms substance abuse and substance dependence, clinicians can better classify a patient’s disorder, which can increase the effectiveness of treatment.
The DSM, compiled and published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), is the most commonly used method of classifying and diagnosing mental disorders, including substance abuse. Outlining every mental health disease and disorder and offering quantitative diagnostic guidelines, clinicians turn to the manual when determining a patient’s level of substance abuse. Moreover, with changes made from the DSM-IV to the DSM-5, clinicians’ have more categories to work with, offering an increased opportunity to characterize a patient’s abuse more accurately.
In past editions, they listed substance abuse and substance dependence as separate disorders. Also, they considered abusing the more severe condition. Characterized by a person’s physical addiction to a substance, substance dependence was diagnosed when a patient showed signs of adaptation to a certain drug. This caused the patient to require higher and higher doses to feel the benefits of the medication. Still, they didn’t consider it a true addiction.
On the other hand, drug addiction was considered a more serious affliction, occurring when the tolerance for a drug became so high that it actually began to change the neurochemical properties in the brain. When this happens, the patient begins to crave the drug, resulting in a complete inability to control their drug abuse.
What do Substances fall into the Substance Use Disorder Category?
By combining substance dependency and substance abuse, a whole new world of diagnostic ability has opened up for those who treat substance abuse victims. With the acknowledgment that the two disorders are actually one (but at a different level), clinicians can now begin to look at how each substance affects a patient’s ability to overcome their addiction.
By looking at how a patient responds to individual substances, it is more possible to pinpoint better ways of treating the disorder. The new criteria allow clinicians to acknowledge and treat substance abuse for even more substances.
It is important to understand what types of substances fall under the umbrella of Substance Abuse Disorder. Here are the most common:
Note: While many people believe caffeine is “addictive,” clinicians cannot diagnose it as a substance use disorder).
Getting Help for Substance Use Disorder
When you need help battling a Substance Use Disorder, you need to find a safe place that understands the intricacies of dependency and addiction. At the Waismann Method of Rapid Detox, we offer one of the most successful medical opiate detoxifications in history, combined with in-depth and individualized medical care. Our treatment is unique and extremely effective. Patients suffering from substance use disorder have the opportunity to overcome this condition comfortably and privately. To find out more about how our unique treatment method works, contact us.