Proposed Changes to Psychiatric Manual May Impact Addiction Diagnosis

Experts are struggling to revise names for the diagnostic manual that defines mental disorders. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the reference guide that clinicians, insurers, researchers and more all rely on to classify and identify psychiatric disorders.

The revised guide will be called the DSM-5 and has a set of many proposed changes that will include changes to over a dozen different categories of disorders. According to a recent news article, the new changes in these categories will be related to eating and personality, moods, addiction and substance use.

The new guide is schedules to be released in May 2013 with the sponsorship of the American Psychiatric Association.

Under the new guidelines, there will be several changes to diagnostic categories such as substance abuse. It will also merge criteria for diagnosing alcohol related disorders, cigarettes and illegal and prescription drugs.

The list of issues usually associated with such disorders will be put into a solitary list of 11 items. Some examples are being unable to control uses of substances and/or being unable to cut down on substances which cause failure to complete obligations at home, school or work.

People will be given diagnoses based on the amount of criteria they meet by being given a number rating with (0-1) meaning no disorder up to (6 or more) being a severe problem. Supporters of these proposed changes say they create a category for even mild disorders which will then help identify alcohol or drug problems before they turn into serious problems for the person.

Experts say often people don’t even realize their consumption of a substance is higher than normal or average. If we can tell people they consume more than normal, they can then change behaviors and avoid the negative consequences, says Keith Humphreys, psychiatry professor at Stanford.