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Drug Addictions Symptoms & Diagnosis


Denial that a drug problem exists is common. Drug abuse can occur without physical dependence.

To definitively diagnose drug abuse, the symptoms must have lasted for at least 12 months.

Symptoms include:

  • Repeated work, school, or home problems due to drug use
  • Continued use of drugs even though it means risking physical safety
  • Recurring trouble with the law related to drug use, including impaired driving
  • Continuing to use drugs despite drug-related problems in personal relationships

Drug abuse often progresses to drug dependence. Symptoms of drug dependence include at least three of the following:

  • Craving for the substance
  • Inability to stop or limit drug use
  • Tolerance, taking greater amounts to feel the same effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms that occur when the drug is stopped
  • Significant amounts of time trying to acquire drugs and recover from their effects
  • Giving up activities to use drugs or recover from the effects
  • Drug use continues even when it causes or worsens health and/or psychological problems


The doctor will ask about:

  • Drug use:
    • How often you use drugs
    • Which drugs you use
    • What amount and if you have increased the amount to receive the same desired effect
  • Emotional problems that may have occurred while using drugs
  • Problems with a job, your family, or the law

Tests may include:

  • Blood and urine tests to check for the presence of drugs

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2024 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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