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Why Doesn’t the DSM Call Addiction, Addiction?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is used by clinicians as a guideline for the descriptions and symptoms of mental disorders. In the manual, the term “substance use disorder” is used in lieu of “addiction” to describe an individual with a problematic pattern of drug and/or alcohol use.

The new version, DSM-5, was changed to more specifically identify which addiction is being diagnosed or addressed. Each substance has its own label, and the terms “abuse” and “dependence” are still used, but it will depend on how many criteria are met. So, an individual can have alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence. The same goes for opioids, stimulants, sedatives, hallucinogens, and inhalants. The manual clarifies the diagnosis further, by describing the diagnosis as severe dependence, severe dependence in partial remission, severe dependence in full sustained remission, and so on.

Since substance abuse and substance dependence were difficult to distinguish in earlier versions of the manual, the new DSM combines these disorders into one and provides a scale of severity with each category, and also includes craving criterion.

In the new version, Gambling Disorder was added to the chapter, even though it’s not a substance use issue. For the first time, the term “addiction” was used in the DSM, and is a replacement for “abuse” and “dependence” when referring to a gambling problem. Nicotine is also in the DSM as an addictive substance, but has been renamed as Tobacco Use Disorder. Other medical associations label addiction, as addiction. With time and research, it’s possible the scientific community may one day agree upon a single label, but it may be a long time in the making.

There are many resources available online, including treatment centers and self-help groups, where an individual concerned with drug use and abuse, can fill out a questionnaire and privately view his or her results. In order to properly diagnose any disorder, it is best to seek professional help. In doing so, treatment options may be discussed, and a plan of action developed to get the individual on the path to recovery and success.

The Serenity Recovery Center stands as a landmark of the Encino Hospital Medical Center offering the best of detox. Committed to providing comfort and care, our private detox program supports the first foundational steps of sobriety. Contact us today for information: 866.294.9401