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How serious is your problem? How does your level of dependence (addiction) compare to other drug and alcohol users?

If you know you've got a problem but aren't yet sure what to do about it (AA/NA, outpatient treatment, drug rehab...) it may be helpful to take this quick addiction severity test that will provide you with a rating score which describes your level of dependence.

This test, called the Severity of Dependence Scale1, is a reliable and valid test for a number of different types of substance addictions, such as opiates, marijuana, cocaine, benzodiazepam, amphetamines and alcohol.

So take a quick minute to answer the following 5 questions honestly and learn how your addiction ranks, and then use this information to make a smart decision about the best way forward:

The Severity of Dependence Scale

Over the previous 3 months:

1. Did you ever feel that your use of drugs or alcohol was out of control?

  • Never or almost never - 0 points
  • Sometimes - 1 point
  • Often - 2 points
  • Always or nearly always - 3 points

2. Did the idea of not getting to drink or use drugs ever make you feel very anxious or nervous?

  • Never or almost never - 0 points
  • Sometimes - 1 point
  • Often - 2 points
  • Always or nearly always - 3 points

3. Did you worry about your use of alcohol or drugs?

  • Never or almost never - 0 points
  • Sometimes - 1 point 
  • Often - 2 points
  • Always or nearly always - 3 points

4. Did you wish you could stop?

  • Never or almost never - 0 points
  • Sometimes - 1 point
  • Often - 2 points
  • Always or nearly always - 3 points

5. How difficult would it be for you to go without using or drinking?

  • Not difficult - 0 points
  • Quite difficult - 1 point
  • Very difficult - 2 points
  • Impossible - 3 points


  • 0-3 = Negligible dependence
  • 4-6 = Mild dependence
  • 7-9 = Moderate dependence
  • 10-12 = Substantial dependence
  • 13-15 = Severe dependence

The higher your score, the more likely you'd benefit from addiction treatment. 

So What Level of Care Is Right for You?

Does your score on the Addiction Severity Test indicate a need for addiction treatment?

And more importantly, are you ready to make a real change?

Once you decide that you're ready to get addiction treatment you then have to decide what level of care best meets your needs and circumstances.

Ideally, you enlist a qualified medical or mental health professional experienced in substance abuse assessments to help you pick a level of care, but you have final say over what you get and where you get it and it's helpful for you to understand some of the factors that might indicate a need for more intensive residential treatment.

Residential or Outpatient?2

In general, it's a good idea to try less intensive and intrusive treatment options before committing to residential treatment, but in some cases, residential care is the best option even on a first attempt at treatment.

Residential treatment may be appropriate for you if you:

  • have made previous attempts at sobriety with outpatient treatment without success
  • have a co-occurring mental illness
  • are physically dependent and require medical detoxification
  • do not have a sober or stable home environment
  • do not believe you can resist temptation while still in your home environment
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Page last updated May 13, 2014

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