Changes In DSM V For Substance Abuse Disorders

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Throughout the years, as more studies and research continue to shed light on the science of addiction and drug abuse, the official medical guidebook called the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) may be updated or revised to accommodate new information, or get rid of unneeded material. These revisions help doctors, students, as well as patients, to better understand the terminology and implications of a wide range of topics such as: how dependency develops, signs of abuse, how to treat the specific disorder, withdrawal symptoms, multi-layered disorders, and much more.

The American Psychiatric Association, or the APA, recently made some major changes in the section of substance abuse and alcohol abuse/dependence. One major change, now in the DSM, was the removal of making a distinction between the terms "abuse" and "dependence." One clear difference is that an individual can abuse a substance without being addicted or dependent on it. According to the revised and updated version, "Criteria are provided for substance use disorder, accompanied by criteria for intoxication, withdrawal, substance/medication-induced disorders, and unspecified substance-induced disorders."

For example, they added "craving or a strong desire or urge to use a substance" as a new criteria for substance use disorder, and erased "recurrent legal issues." It's obvious that there are many individuals suffering from addiction that do well at keeping it secret, and rarely or never get into trouble with the law, so it's no longer a criterion. The other major change was that the threshold for substance use disorder diagnosis is now set to require two or more of the criteria, instead of one or more.

It's also important to note that according to the DSM-5, severity of the substance use disorders is based on the number of criteria met for it:

A) 2-3 in the criteria indicates a mild disorder

B) 4-5 in the criteria indicates a moderate disorder

C) and 6 or more indicates a severe disorder

What else? Well, gambling is now a behavioral addiction, rather than just a obsessive compulsive disorder. One reason for this is because the brain's reward system in that of problem gamblers, is quite similar to those of drug or alcohol addicts, to a certain degree. This degree is quite debatable, because gambling isn't a physical addiction that requires the consummation of a chemical substance that causes mind-altering qualities. No, gambling is a behavioral addiction which requires the gambler to participate in gambling or risky activities, dealing more with producing a feeling or state through activity, and not eating or drinking a substance. Because of this difference, there are many who disagree with the level of addiction. In fact, physical dependents have harsh withdrawal symptoms that can lead to death, which is more serious and deadly, while gamblers do not.

Is it really an addiction, or just an obsessive compulsive disorder? According to the official DSM, yes, it is a behavioral addiction. Finally, caffeine and marijuana withdrawal were added to the version, and better elaborated on than the previous DSM IV.

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