ASAM Level 0.5, Level 1, Level 2.5, Level 2.7

(American Society of Addiction Medicine)

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) provides a shortened version of their definition of addiction as a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.

Addiction is characterized by an inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death. – Addiction Society of Medicine (ASAM)

Notice that in the definition the emphasis is not on drugs, as an individual can become addicted to a number of different substances, behaviors, or processes. As an individual is assessed and placed into counseling the following factors or dimensions are considered and placement is determined by a continuum of care. This does not mean that ALL individuals will or have received a recommendation for counseling. For those who have, have expressed in some form or fashion that they need help even when they cannot see it or directly ask.

Dimension 1– Intoxication and/or Withdrawal Potential: What do your past or current substance use and withdrawal experience look like?

Dimension 2– Biomedical Conditions and Complications: What does your past/ current health along with physical conditions look like?

Dimension 3– Emotional, Behavioral, or Cognitive Conditions and Complications: What do your thoughts, emotions, and mental health issues or challenges affect you?

Dimension 4– Readiness to Change: Do you want different?

Dimension 5– Relapse, Continued Use, or Continued Problem Potential: How has this cycle benefitted you and hurt you?

Dimension 6– Recovery/ Living Environment: Are you safe?

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