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Do you have a substance use disorder, and if you do, is it mild, moderate or severe?

To find out, take the American Psychiatric Association’s 11 question test, and the more yes answers you tally, the more severe your addiction.

The APA’s Addiction Test

Adapted from the APA’s DSM-V substance use disorder (SUD) diagnostic criteria. 

Answer each question regarding your behaviors over the past 12 months.

  1. Do you often take more drugs or alcohol for longer than you’d intended on?
  2. Do you have a persistent desire to quit or cut down, or have you tried to quit or cut down and been unable to do so?
  3. Do you spend a lot of time, using, procuring or recovering from your use of drugs or alcohol?
  4. Do you crave drugs or alcohol?
  5. Has your continuing drug or alcohol use caused you to fail to meet responsibilities at work, school or home?
  6. Have you continued to use despite persistent social or relationship problems that are caused or worsened by your drug or alcohol use?
  7. Has your drug or alcohol use caused you to quit or reduce your involvement in social, occupational or recreational activities?
  8. Have you repeatedly used drugs or alcohol in physically risky situations (like drinking and driving, for example)?
  9. Have you continued to use despite realizing that your drug or alcohol use causes or worsens physical or mental health problems?
  10. Have you developed a tolerance?
  11. Have you experienced withdrawal symptoms after reducing your use?


  • A score of 0-1 yes answers indicates no SUD.
  • A score of 2-3 indicates a mild SUD.
  • A score of 4-5 indicates a moderate SUD.
  • A score of 6 or more indicates a severe SUD.

The Spectrum of Severity

Substance use disorders occur along a spectrum of severity:

  1. From a mild SUD at one end – for example, where your regular drinking might cause you mild health complaints (for example, alcohol and high blood pressure) and relationship problems.
  2. To a more moderate SUD – for example, where you start craving alcohol and find that you can’t cut down even when you try.
  3. To a more severe SUD at the far end – for example where you need to drink each day to avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms and you’ve experienced significant life problems resulting from your drinking.

Consider Taking Action Now

If you have any degree of SUD, you should take action.

If your score indicates only a mild SUD then you might not feel compelled to take any action at the moment. However, though your current situation doesn’t demand life-saving intervention, you should still take steps now to remedy your situation, because:

  1. Left unchecked, SUDs tend to worsen over time. Do you want to slide into progressively worsening addiction?
  2. Worsening SUDs are associated with more severe social, occupational and personal health consequences. Allowing a mild SUD to slide over the years into a moderate or severe SUD can have lasting negative life-consequences.
  3. Many people can reverse a mild SUD with purposeful self-directed behavioral change. More serious SUDs are less easily treated. In some tragic cases, people who progress to severe SUDs will never fully recover.

So you can address your problem easily now, or wait a while, feel more severe consequences, and have a much more difficult time treating it down the road.

To gain even more information on your situation, also try the addiction severity test. This easy self test scores your level of dependence and provides information on what types of treatment may be most appropriate.

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Page last updated Jul 17, 2014

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