Substance Use Disorder vs. Addiction: The Difference

Although the terms substance use disorder (SUD) and addiction are closely connected, they are used and understood in the field of mental health in slightly different ways. We’ll examine the differences between the two in this blog post and how they could influence you.

If you or a loved one could benefit from 12 Steps to Recovery, contact Myrtle Beach Recovery to learn about our comfortable residential setting.

What is Substance Use Disorder?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) Fifth Edition, a widely known manual for identifying mental health problems, uses the diagnostic term SUD. SUD includes a variety of harmful substance use behaviors, such as problems with alcohol and drugs. A number of symptoms, including the inability to control substance use, continuing use in spite of negative effects, urges, and withdrawal symptoms, characterize it.

SUD is diagnosed using a variety of factors, such as impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and pharmacological criteria. These criteria are taken into account when determining the degree of the symptoms, which can be mild, moderate, or severe. The number of criteria met determines how severe SUD is. To ascertain if a person satisfies the requirements for a diagnosis of SUD, the DSM-5 offers detailed diagnostic criteria and recommendations.

What is Addiction?

The term “addiction” refers to a more general concept that includes both the physiological and psychological effects of compulsive drug use. It alludes to a persistent, recurring illness marked by compulsive drug seeking and usage, notwithstanding unfavorable effects. Complex interactions between biological, psychological, and social factors play a role in addiction.

Substance Use Disorder vs. Addiction

While SUD is a specific diagnosis, the term addiction is frequently used in a broader sense to represent the overall situation of being addicted to a substance. It can be used for both diagnosed cases of SUD and those where no formal diagnosis has been made.

Why Do We Use the Term Substance Use Disorder and Not Substance Abuse?

The widely regarded Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) established the term Substance Use Disorder to replace the narrower term Substance Abuse. The DSM-5 includes diagnostic criteria and severity levels for Substance Use Disorder, providing a systematic framework for diagnosis and treatment planning. The change from “substance abuse” to “substance use disorder” reflects a more complete and nuanced understanding of substance-related disorders in the field of mental health. 

Also, the term Substance Use Disorder stresses the individual rather than the substance. It emphasizes that individuals coping with substance-related disorders are complicated individuals experiencing an illness and are not characterized primarily by their use of substances. This move minimizes stigma and encourages a more sympathetic approach to understanding and managing substance-related issues.

Overall, the transition from “abuse” to “substance use disorder” reflects a more person-centered, comprehensive, and evidence-based approach to identifying and resolving substance-related issues. It aids in the reduction of stigma, the improvement of diagnostic accuracy, and the guidance of suitable treatment strategies.

Get Help Today with Myrtle Beach Recovery 

Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is a specific diagnostic diagnosis in the DSM-5 that describes problematic patterns of substance use, whereas addiction is a broader term that incorporates obsessive and dangerous substance use. Either way, if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, let Myrtle Beach Recovery help you with our 12-step immersion program. Our experienced staff will help you work through the steps to help you regain control of your life.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you on your journey to sobriety.