Definition for Drug Addiction

Definition for Drug AddictionWhat is the Definition for Drug Addiction?

By Debbie Wicker

The definition of addiction is being very heavily debated as the Diagnostic Statistical Manual V (DSM V) is updated and targeted for release in the Spring of 2013. The DSM is the “bible” for the behavioral health community and used to categorize mental health problems to support good treatment modalities as well as for reimbursement of mental health services.

The current definition for addiction as defined by the DSM IV and is considered to be relatively strict. A patient has to meet many criteria to be considered an addict. The seven criteria are:

1. Tolerance – needed to use more drug to get the same effect
2. Withdrawal – very unpleasant symptoms when the patient stops using
3. Difficulty controlling use – Patient uses more of the drug then they plan to even when they don’t want to
4. Negative consequences – Patient uses regardless of very negative consequences like DUI’s, divorce and job loss
5. Neglecting or postponing activities – Patient stops engaging in activities they used to enjoy
6. Spending significant time obtaining their drug

7. Desire to stop or cut down use but can’t

The current standard requires the patient to meet at least four of the above symptoms in order to be considered addicted to the drug. Many psychologists’ and psychiatrists believe that this is too high of a standard and leaves many addicted people without treatment or support. They also believe it doesn’t represent the reality of the addiction for the patient and their family.

Many believe the misdiagnosis of addiction is extremely harmful to patients because it lulls them into an incorrect false sense of security when really they absolutely need to get treatment and stop using the drug ASAP.

How will the DSM V change the Definition for Drug Addiction

So how will the Definition for Drug Addiction change with when the DSM V is released? No one knows for sure and it is still being debated by MANY people.

The rumors say it will have a continuum for addiction and that the use behavior of the addict will be much more prominent in the definition. Binge drinking and amount of use is going to put people on the addiction diagnosis MUCH sooner.

This change is probably a good idea because the sooner a patient discovers they have a serious problem, hopefully, the sooner they’ll begin to get treatment and attend meetings. The progression of the disease of addiction is such that as it moves from stage to stage it harms more medical harm and is less receptive to treatment.

Health care insures are very unhappy and concerned about this change in definition and are fighting with every weapon they have available. Their lobbing and pr machines are working overtime trying to discourage the committee reviewing the definitions from making, what they believe, at extremely costly changes.

Possible Conflict of interest

Many also believe that there could be a conflict of interest on the DSM V committee because many receive income from drug companies for addiction treatment drugs, which would now likely have to be paid by insurance companies.

Because the health insurance industry will be paying the bill for this change it will be interesting to see what the DSM V will actually contain, stay tuned.

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