Substance Use Disorder

A substance use disorder (SUD), also known as a drug use disorder, is a medical condition in which the use of one or more substances leads to a clinically significant impairment or distress. Broad class of drugs that are used while exhibiting SUD include: alcohol, phencyclidine, inhalants, stimulants, cannabis, “other hallucinogens”, opioids, tobacco, and sedatives, hypnotics, and anxiolytics.

Statistics of Substance Use in Australia

  • Statistics in Australia show that young adults are drinking less, and fewer 12 to 17-year olds are drinking.
  • More people in their 50’s are consuming 11 or more standard drinks in one drinking session.
  • In 2016, around 3.1 million Australians reported using an illicit drug.
  • In 2016, the most common illicit drug was cannabis, followed by misuse of pharmaceuticals, cocaine, and then ecstasy.
  • While overall use of methamphetamine has decreased, use of crystal methamphetamine (ice) continues to be a problem.
  • People who are using crystal methamphetamine (ice), are using it more frequently which increases the risks and harms.

Symptoms of Substance Use

Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder according to DSM 5 are

  • Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you’re meant to.
  • Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to.
  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substances.
  • Cravings and urges to use the substance.
  • Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of substance use.
  • Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships.
  • Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use.
  • Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger.
  • Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance.
  • Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance).
  • Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance.


Treatment of SUD approved by the APS

Duration and Intensity

Addiction to substances increases over time. This affects one’s daily functioning, work capacity, relationships and parenting capacity. If capacity to function is markedly affected, then Detoxification and Rehabilitation is required. Depending on intensity there is outpatient and inpatient Rehabilitation programs. Access to such programs through consultation with our GP.

Co-morbidity of Substance Use Disorder

Substance abuse can co-occur with

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