Skip to content
Home » Addiction Diagnosis: Tests, Screening, and Criteria – Verywell Health

Addiction Diagnosis: Tests, Screening, and Criteria – Verywell Health

Krystina is a Technical Writer with a background in healthcare. She has spent the last 10 years working for an internationally recognized medical facility where she found her passion for making complicated topics easier to understand.
Steven Gans, MD, is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Addiction is a complex mental disorder and is often self-diagnosed. There is no minimum requirement for how long or how often you must use a substance or how much you need to consume before being diagnosed with addiction. Ultimately, having a substance abuse disorder is about how it is affecting you and your overall quality of life.
While most people think of consuming drugs or alcohol when thinking of addiction, it’s important to remember that there can be behavioral addictions such as gambling, technology, shopping, and many other seemingly ordinary activities. While the general diagnosis information in this article can apply to any addiction, the focus will be on substance abuse.
FatCamera / Getty Images
If you suspect you could have an addiction, the next step is an examination by a healthcare professional. This involves:
The exact diagnosis a person receives will depend on the nature of their addiction. Because some substances have the potential to cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms when they are stopped, it is important to receive an appropriate diagnosis in order to get the best treatment.
Your healthcare provider is not legally required to report drug use to any law enforcement agency. Simply put, if you make an appointment to see your healthcare provider about addiction to drugs, they will not call the police to report you. 
Substance use disorders span a wide variety of problems arising from substance use. According to the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition” (DSM-5), substance abuse is diagnosed using these 11 criteria:
While there are many lab tests to detect drugs or alcohol in someone’s blood or urine, they can generally only see recent use.
Regardless, your healthcare provider may recommend specific lab tests to monitor your treatment and recovery. Your healthcare provider may also order lab tests to see the potential impact of substances on your physical health. 
Since addiction is often a self-diagnosed condition, recognizing or deciding you may be struggling with an addiction is often one of the biggest challenges in recovery.
Everyone who has an addiction comes to that recognition in different ways.
Questions to ask yourself if you think you may have an addiction include:
If you answer yes to any of these questions, speak with a healthcare provider.
If you are struggling with addiction, the most important thing is to reach out for help. Finding a healthcare provider or attending an addiction support group are the first steps you can take to get on the road to recovery. 
Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you live your healthiest life.
Thank you, {{}}, for signing up.
There was an error. Please try again.
American Society of Addiction Medicine. Definition of addiction.
McLellan AT. Substance misuse and substance use disorders: Why do they matter in healthcare? Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 128:112-130. 

Thank you, {{}}, for signing up.
There was an error. Please try again.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *