Physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance or behavior, and unable to stop taking it/doing it without incurring adverse effects. People with an addiction do not have control over what they are doing, taking or using.

Drug Addiction – there is a psychological/physical component; the person is unable to control the aspects of the addiction without help because of the mental or physical conditions involved

Drug Habit – this is done by choice. A person with a habit can choose to stop, and will subsequently stop successfully if they want to. The psychological/physical component is not an issue as it is with an addiction

An addiction must meet at least 3 of the following criteria. This is based on the criteria of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV).

  1. Drug Tolerance. Using more alcohol or drugs overtime to get the same effect.

  2. Drug Withdrawal. Experiencing physical or emotional withdrawal when you stop using, such as: anxiety, irritability, shakes, sweats, nausea, or vomiting.

  3. Limited control. Drinking or using drugs more than you would like to, Such as: planning to only have one drink and not being able to stop after you have the first drink.

  4. Negative consequences. Continuing to use even though there have been negative consequences to your mood, self-esteem, health, job, or family.

  5. Neglected or postponed activities. Putting off or reducing social, recreational, work, or household activities because of your use.

  6. Significant time or energy spent. Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, concealing, planning, or recovering from your use. Spending a lot of time thinking about using. Concealing or minimizing your use. Thinking up schemes to avoid getting caught.

  7. Desire to cut down. Thoughts about cutting down or controlling your use, acting on those thoughts, then being unsuccessful in your plan to quit.


  • You have problems getting to work or school on time or at all because of your drinking.

  • You drink in risky situations, such as before or while driving a car.

  • After drinking, you can’t remember what happened while you were drinking..

  • You have legal problems because of your drinking.

  • You get hurt or you hurt someone else when you are drinking.

  • You keep drinking even though you have health problems that are caused or made worse by alcohol use.

  • Your friends or family members are worried about your drinking.

  • You cannot quit drinking or control how much you drink.

  • You need to drink more to get the same effect.

  • You have withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking.

  • You spend a lot of time drinking and recovering.

  • You have given up other activities so you can drink.

  • You keep drinking even though it harms your relationships.

  • You drink in the morning or drink alone.

  • You change what you drink, such as switching from beer to wine because you think that doing this will help you drink less.

  • You feel guilty after drinking.

  • You make excuses for your drinking or do things to hide your drinking.

  • You worry that you won’t get enough alcohol.

  • You have physical signs of alcohol dependence, such as weight loss, a sore or upset stomach. or redness of the nose and cheeks.

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