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Criteria for a Substance Use Disorder

Woman holding a wine bottle and slumped over the driving wheel

When someone is charged with a crime involving a substance, many outsiders assume that addiction must be why that person was charged. While this is not always true, substance use disorders do play a factor in many criminal cases.

What is a Substance Use Disorder?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) a substance use disorder is defined as, “When the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.”

Characteristics of a Substance Use Discorder

Psychiatrists frequently use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a foundation to determine if someone has a substance use disorder or other mental problem. Below are some of the most common factors psychiatrists look for when making this diagnosis.

Risky Use
Is the person who is using the substance putting themselves in danger or others? Examples include driving under the influence or using substances until they black out.

Interpersonal or Social Issues
If the person used to be social and seems more withdrawn, they could suffer from substance abuse. Another sign could be if the individual is confronted about a potential substance dependency and retorts or fights those claims.

It is common for those with substance abuse issues to experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, shakiness, and anxiety if the substance is out of their system.

This is when the individual has to use more of the substance to get the same effect as it once brought them.

Neglected Roles
If someone is failing to meet their responsibilities at work, at school, or at home, it could be an indication of substance abuse.

Unsuccessful Attempts to Quit
Individuals who try to quit a substance but repeatedly return to it may also have a substance use disorder. Sometimes, these individuals can quit for a few days, weeks, or even months, but they have trouble controlling their urges and fall back to substance use.

To officially be diagnosed with a substance use disorder, psychiatrists use the factors listed above as well as others and compare it to a 12-month period. If someone indicates they meet a handful of the criteria, they may have a mild substance use disorder. Those who meet more than half the criteria are considered to have a moderate substance use disorder, and those who meet more than half the criteria are considered severe.

How This Diagnosis Can Help My Criminal Case

If you are facing criminal charges, identifying whether you have substance use disorder may be in your best interest. Even before you go to court, if you admit that you may have a substance use disorder and, more importantly, you’re willing to get help for this issue, the judge may look favorably at your situation.

Not every criminal case is the same, so you need an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney to work for you. The dedicated attorney at The Law Offices of Jason D. Baltz has seen it all and knows the Wisconsin court system. Let Jason D. Baltz get the best possible result for your legal matter — contact our office online or by phone to get started. (414) 375-0797

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