Revised Definition of Addiction Could Lead to Millions More Being Diagnosed

A proposed revision to the definition of addiction by mental health specialists could lead to millions of additional people receiving an addiction diagnosis, The New York Times reports. The changes could lead to big consequences for both health insurers and taxpayers, according to the newspaper.

The revisions are being proposed for the new edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), scheduled for release in May 2013. The manual would enlarge the list of recognized symptoms for drug and alcohol addiction, and reduce the number of symptoms needed for a diagnosis.

The new manual would include gambling as an addiction for the first time, and may introduce a category called “behavioral addiction—not otherwise specified,” that some public health experts say might be used too often to diagnose various addictions, including shopping, video games, sex or the Internet.

The DSM is important because it determines whether insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid, will pay for treatment, and whether schools will finance specific special-education services. The court system uses the DSM to evaluate whether criminal defendants are mentally impaired. Drug manufacturers rely on the manual when making decisions about research.

Some economists predict the new definition of addiction could add 20 million people, leading to additional costs running into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The chances of getting a diagnosis are going to be much greater, and this will artificially inflate the statistics considerably,” Thomas F. Babor, an editor of the journal Addiction, told the newspaper. He said many people receiving a diagnosis of addiction under the new guidelines would have only a mild problem, siphoning off scarce drug treatment resources in schools, prisons and health care settings.

While the American Psychiatric Association scientific review panel has asked for more evidence to support the revisions on addiction, several researchers involved with the manual noted the panel is unlikely to significantly alter the proposed revisions.

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    linda holden

    July 10, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    My opininion is that unless you meet the DSM requirements then you need not worry about getting diagnosed prematurely, and on the other hand there were alot of people that were not meeting the requirements and not getting treatment. Look at the statistics. On average 20 years for an alcoholic to get treatment for the first time and 7 years for a drug addict. Come on where is their life? What about their families! Look at the out comes. Patterns are being set and society is failing to help individuals. Nobody wants to be addicted. It is a disease . Get it.

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    Pernilla Burke

    June 26, 2012 at 1:07 AM

    what scares me the most about this is that those with serious addictions, like kevin says crack cocaine, her ion etc will they get lost in this? the level of severity of addiction comes into play. also, i wonder how we ended up here…why are we all so addicted? what happened that we now need to change our description of addiction to encompass a broader picture. there is a lack of connection with self and spirituality that really worries me.
    also, i disagree with rosi that kids do drugs cause they are bored. the issue is so much more complex than that. kids these days are over scheduled with activities and yet they seems to just want to get out of themselves….i never did drugs because i was bored, it started with curiosity and a combination that things were tense at home. i felt an intense lack of purpose and meaning. now that i am clean 14 years and have my own two small children i try to teach them meaning and values and the beauty of life in hopes that they won’t go down the same road as i did.

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    June 5, 2012 at 5:15 AM

    was a drug addict myslef, i know what actually causes it, and i know how to prevent it.the best thing is actually comfortable and love in family. Rules or forcing would actually tempted them to try. Keeping them busy like exercising (together with them) does help alot. out door activity such as BBQ party and surfing at the sea is a great way to take their focus out of drugs and do drug because they are bored, just remember this.

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    May 21, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    They are not looking at the 18-24 year old binge drinkers that once they mature, they become responsible drinkers. This will have a very negative impact on that population, more so than the 26-30’s+ population that don’t learn to make the behavioral change on their own. If this is to raise individuals bottoms, then there will be more mis-diagnosed folks that are rightfully so, not going to buy-in to any form of treatment and will have a negative stigma about treatment. If/when they do end up needing treatment at a later date, they will already have a jaded perspective of it. Most go into it kicking and screamiing anyway; but if they do have the disease, they eventually may get it. I see an issue diagnosing the early misusers as something more than what they are. I believe that early intervention has it’s place, but not in the DSM. That is for the Health Promotion/Education providers in the schools and Public Health. Not as a guide line for diagnosing, which the DSM is; a guide line for making a diagnosis.

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