Alcohol and Drug Problems Categorized Differently in the New DSM

on Tuesday, 29 May 2012. Posted in Breaking News, From Professionals

Drug and Alcohol Addiction

As the new Diagnostic Manual that spells out criteria for mental illness prepares to revise the criteria and classification for addiction and other substance abuse disorders. According to Washington Post, one set of proposed changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, called DSM-5, will incorporate changes to dozens of categories, including those related to mood, eating and personality, as well as substance abuse and addiction.

This manual is used as a reference guide for clinicians, researchers, insurers, and others to identify and classify psychiatric disorders. The new manual, developed by the American Psychiatric Association is due out in May 2013.

The new guidelines would get rid of the diagnostic category of "substance abuse," which is generally defined by short-term problems like driving drunk, and "substance dependence," which is chronic and marked by tolerance and withdrawal. These categories would be replaced by a combined "Substance use and addictive disorders." This would also merge the criteria used to diagnose disorders related to the use of alcohol, cigarettes, illicit, or prescription drugs, as well as other substances that can be addicting. This list includes issues such as being unable to cut down or control the use of substance and failing to meet obligations, such as school, work, or family. People will be given a diagnosis, depending on how many criteria they meet.

Supporters of these changes, creating a category for mild disorders, may make it easier to identify and address drug or alcohol problems before they become serious. These new DSM guidelines make it easier for primary-care doctors to be reimbursed by insurers for screening for drugs and alcohol, as well as conducting short counseling sessions, which has proven to be effective.

Keith Humphreys, a psychiatry professor at Stanford University and the former senior drug policy adviser to the Obama administration, said, "The goal is to educate patients about the higher risks they face of, for example, having a car accident or liver problems if they drink, and motivate them to change. A lot of times, people aren't aware that their consumption is way higher than average. If you tell people they drink more than others, they can change and avoid the consequences."

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