In order to meet a diagnosis of dependency on a given substance, at least three of the first six criteria should have been present over the past 12 months (ICD-10 criteria). But dependency is not the only substance misuse disorder: think for example about the person who is causing harm to themselves through recurrent binge drinking of alcohol. They might have a diagnosis of harmful use of alcohol.
Check out the drinkaware website for more information and to calculate your own alcohol intake.
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ guideline for both men and women is that to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it’s best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days.
Stages of Change
There are plenty great resources about substance misuse available online. Try the Talk to Frank website for lots of information about the many, many substances in circulation and some of the street names for them.
Other online resources include the Orange Book Clinical Guidelines, which give extensive information on the management of substance misuse disorders (particularly opiates).