Redefining Addiction

Redefining Addiction

Redefining Addiction

new definition of addiction
DSM-5 Improves Diagnosing Addiction

The world of mental health treatment is changing soon. This May marks the publication of the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the book mental health professionals use to diagnose patients. The release of the new DSM will impact many people’s lives. The criteria for disorders form part of a patient’s diagnosis, which helps determine treatment and whether or not insurance will pay for that treatment. Criteria are changing for several mental disorders, including substance addiction. This means that more people will meet the criteria for a diagnosis of substance use disorder.

Clearing Up the Confusion

The disease of addiction has been redefined many times over. The last version of the DSM contained separate criteria for “substance abuse” and “substance dependence.” For many mental health professionals, differentiating these two disorders is confusing. The distinctions are subtle and may have led to misdiagnosis or inadequate treatment.

The new edition of the DSM combines “substance abuse” and “substance dependence” into a spectrum called “substance use disorder.” People may have a mild alcohol use disorder or severe alcohol use disorder, depending on how many of six criteria they meet. The criteria requirement has also been increased. In the last version of the DSM, you just needed one symptom to receive a diagnosis. Now you must meet at least two criteria to be diagnosed with a mild substance use disorder. Other changes include adding cravings to the list of criteria and removing having legal problems.

The DSM-5 promises to improve diagnosing, which should lead to better treatment practices.

What do you think of the revamping of substance use disorders? Will no more dependence or abuse make a difference to addicts or mental health professionals? Share your thoughts below or on Recovery Connection’s Facebook page.