The latest news on addiction comes from mental health diagnostic manual, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which is published by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM is widely regarded and used by clinicians, agencies, insurance companies, scientists, researchers, big pharma companies as well as the U.S. law system. The book is considered the official diagnostic tool for the United States and has been seen as very beneficial. Over the course of time, the issue of addiction as a mental health condition has gone back and forth. The organization prides itself on rooting the diagnostic tool in new science, research and neuroscience. In some cases, addiction is one of the most controversial subjects because it combines possible differences in a person’s brain chemistry along with learned behaviors, personality quirks and propensity to addiction.
The new version of DSM, the DSM-5 will be the first version to include “addiction” and creates some very blurry lines around what addiction is or is not. Using verbiage such as “alcohol disorder” with varying shades of severity. Additionally it includes a reference to “cravings”. There has been some backlash from opponents of the new DSM saying that creating a diagnosis that has to do with neuroscience is not more effective, however experts believe that this wording will help individuals who are seeking help get better, more effective treatment. This version will also not mention “dependence” which can be seen as a subjective term that was confusing for both patients and doctors. Because dependence can vary so greatly based on a person’s mind and body the term has more or less become obsolete.
In my experience with addiction, there are varying levels of use, abuse and can change over time depending on circumstances and what is going on in a person’s life. The DSM-5 is also being contested because outside organizations wanted to review it and the American Psychiatric Association also might have financial conflicts because it has small ties to drug companies whose profits could potentially be increased based on the types of diagnoses that the DSM now supports. The new diagnosis basically places substance abusers and “extreme” addicts together, ostensibly making it more difficult to diagnose and treat these disorders effectively.
You will have to decide for yourself what you think, I for one feel fortunate to know any treatment facilities that treat substance abuse for each individual that comes through their doors and relies on multiple methods, 12-step recovery, science, medicine and holistic treatment in order to treat the “whole person”. In my experience I have found this approach with a foundation in long-term recovery and sustainable, small changes to be the most effective in the treatment of addiction and substance abuse.
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Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.