hand holding various pills asking themselves what is substance use disorder

Today’s terminology seems to get more and more complicated. For instance, if you are investigating a rehabilitation or recovery program, you might hear the term substance use disorder used. You may be asking, “What is substance use disorder?” “Is it different from substance abuse or dependence?” 

Rest assured, the trusted experts at Harmony Bay have the answers. Learn more about intensive outpatient programs in South Jersey. We have the answers to the questions you’re asking. All you have to do to get them is reach out. 

What is Substance Use Disorder? 

Most health and medical professionals use the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, otherwise known as DSM, to diagnose mental conditions. The DSM uses substance use disorder as a combination of substance abuse and substance dependence. Therefore, substance use disorder is the medical term for drug addiction. 

Substance use disorder is a medical condition that affects brain function. It leads you to be unable to control your substance use. The good news, however, is that with the right treatment program, you can understand substance use disorder. Then, if necessary, you can identify the markers and get on the road to recovery. 

Medical professionals generally classify substance use disorder as either mild, moderate, or severe. This classification depends on how many criteria you meet. You should understand that you should seek treatment, even if you only have a mild substance use disorder. The longer you use the substance, the more intense your addiction will become. It is much easier to treat a mild form than it is in a severe form. Some diagnoses of substance use disorder overlap with depression and require specialized treatment beyond normal visits to the depression treatment center in NJ


There are 11 criteria used in determining how severe your substance use disorder is. They are as follows: 

  1. Social or interpersonal problems due to use: Has your substance use lead to relationship problems?
  2. Withdrawal: When you stop using the substance, do you experience withdrawal symptoms?
  3. Hazardous use: Have you used the substance in dangerous ways to yourself or others? 
  4. Neglected responsibilities: Have you failed to meet your obligations at work, school, or home due to substance use? 
  5. Tolerance: Have you built up a tolerance to the substance, so you need to use more to get the same effect? 
  6. Unable to quit: Have you tried and failed to cut back or stop using the substance? 
  7. Used longer amounts longer: Do you use more of the substance or used the substance for more prolonged periods? 
  8. Physical or psychological problems due to use: Has your use led to physical or mental issues, such as liver damage or depression?
  9. Time spent using: Do you spend a lot of your time using the substance? 
  10. Cravings: Do you have cravings for the substance?
  11. Activities given up: Do you skip doing your hobbies to use the substance? 

If you answered yes to 2 or 3 of the criteria, you might have a mild substance use disorder. A person who meets 4-5 of the measures has a moderate substance use disorder. However, a person who meets six or more has a severe substance use disorder.

Contact Harmony Bay Wellness

If you think you may have a problem, consider taking our drug and alcohol assessment in South Jersey. Then, call 855.765.6399 to enroll in one of our treatment programs. Please contact Harmony Bay Wellness with any questions or concerns about substance use disorder and other mental health disorders. Together, we can beat your substance use disorder and get you back to being yourself. 

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