Pre-addiction is a phase of substance use that precedes full-blown addiction.
Addiction is a term used to describe the most severe substance use disorders (SUDs). But addiction typically develops over time with continued use. Pre-addiction is a serious but treatable condition. Recognizing and intervening in the pre-addiction phase can prevent the onset of addiction and improve overall health.
If a person is using drugs or alcohol in an unhealthy way but their symptoms are not severe enough to be considered an addiction, they may be experiencing pre-addiction. Individuals experiencing pre-addiction may go on to develop full-blown addiction if changes are not made. Pre-addiction can present with different patterns of use, from regular use to binge use.
Addiction is a chronic illness characterized by changes in brain circuitry. It includes symptoms of compulsive and persistent behaviors, such as using a drug or drinking, despite negative consequences.
There are 11 potential diagnostic criteria for SUDs outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). SUDs range from mild to severe. Two or more of the 11 criteria is considered a SUD. When someone is experiencing 6 or more criteria, they are considered to have a severe SUD. Five or fewer of the criteria can be considered moderate or even mild SUD, or pre-addiction.