Drug Addiction – Tests and Diagnosis

It often comes to the attention of a doctor or mental health provider the problem of drug addiction of a person through the person’s friends or family member. When the patient comes in for an appointment, the doctor will first ask questions related to the patient’s addiction. If the physician deems that the patient has an addiction problem, then he will recommend the patient to a specialist’s care.

For addiction to nicotine, the problem is often handled by a physician; for addiction to more powerful drugs and substances, however, this problem is escalated to a mental health specialist like a psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor.

Some of the diagnostic tests given for drug addiction can include:

Blood test – A blood test is perform to see if the substance is still in the blood, which if positive will mean the drug has just been taken a while ago.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disroders or DSM – In order to be considered as having a drug addiction, the patient must meet the standards for drug addiction set forth in this manual, which was published by the American Psychiatric Association.

The standards for drug addiction should entail the existence of just three of the seven factors stipulated by the DSM handbook. These are:

  • Tolerance – The patient has developed tolerance to the drug and therefore has less impact on the patient. Therefore, to gain a more powerful and desired effect the patient then needs to take more of the substance.
  • Psychological and/or physical withdrawal symptoms – The patient needs to take the drug or something of a similar substance in order to avoid experiencing these symptoms.
  • Regular high dose intake of the drug – The patient always takes in the substance in higher-than-normal doses.
  • Unsuccessful cessation – The patient wants to quit or at list limit his drug intake but fails all the time.
  • Too much time spent in acquiring the drug – The patient obsessively looks for the drug when it’s short supply and will spent whole days and nights if need be to acquire it.
  • Long recovery time – The patient may find it hard to shake of the effects of the drug.
  • Loss or curtailing of positive activities – The patient foregoes any recreational or occupational activities just for the drug or because of the drug.
  • Continued use of the drug – Even if they know it harms them physically, emotionally, financially, socially, legally and psychologically, patients cannot just stop taking the drug.