Substance Abuse and Substance Use Disorder Checklist

This checklist is designed as a measure of disorder symptomatology. The results must be interpreted in the context of an individual’s circumstances and as such should be used only in combination with a comprehensive medical and clinical assessment. It is NOT a stand-alone diagnostic tool.

  • Substance taken in larger amounts over a longer period than originally intended
  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use
  • Great deal of time spent obtaining, using or recovering from using, the substance
  • Craving, or strong desire to use, the substance
  • Recurrent substance use resulting in failure to fulfil major role obligations at work, school or home
  • Continued substance use despite it repeatedly causing or exacerbating interpersonal problems
  • Giving up or reducing important social, school, work or recreational activities due to the substance use
  • Recurrent substance use in situations where it is physically dangerous to use
  • Continuing to use the substance despite the knowledge that it is repeatedly causing or exacerbating physical or psychological problems
  • Tolerance (needing more and more of the substance to produce the same effect OR having a reduced effect from using the same amount of the substance)
  • Withdrawal symptoms that can be alleviated by using the substance (these symptoms vary for each substance)

If a patient meets at least 2 of the above criteria with a 1 year period, there is an increased chance that they are engaging in Substance Abuse or that they are experiencing a Substance Use Disorder.

In this case, it is recommended that they be referred to a psychologist for a more comprehensive assessment. To book an appointment with a psychologist, contact Strategic Psychology on (02) 6262 6157 or email


Reference: American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.