Fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to be … – News
Every new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders stirs up a host of questions and controversies, and the next DSM-the DSM-5, to be published in 2013-is no exception. The diagnoses related to alcohol and other substance use disorders have had their own share of the controversy, according to Marc A. Schuckit, M.D., editor of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs and a member of the Substance Use Disorder Work Group for the DSM-5. An editorial from Schuckit in the July issue of JSAD, as well as letters from three experts, highlights the debate.
In past DSMs, the 11 criteria for alcohol and other drug use disorders were divided into two related diagnoses: dependence and abuse. Dependence was diagnosed if a person met three of seven possible criteria items. If the person did not meet the threshold for dependence, then abuse could be diagnosed if the person endorsed any one of four remaining items. The DSM-5 committee felt that asking clinicians to work their way through items for two syndromes was more complicated than was necessary. The group also was reluctant to continue using a diagnosis that involved a person meeting only a single criterion, as the abuse diagnosis currently does. “One item is not a syndrome, even if you repeatedly have problems with that item,” says Schuckit.
Therefore, one of the biggest changes is the decision to meld the separate abuse and dependence categories into a single diagnosis in which a person has to meet two or more items for a diagnosis. With the DSM-5, a person can have an “alcohol use disorder” or a “drug use disorder” but not specifically abuse of or dependence on alcohol or other drugs.
“Our goal was to try to make the criteria easier for the usual clinician to use, and so we’re no longer asking them to remember one criteria set for abuse and a separate set for dependence,” says Schuckit.
But the proposed changes have received significant criticism. Griffith Edwards, D.M., in a letter to the editor in the same issue of JSAD, writes that there is “no convincing case” for the proposed changes. “The impression is given of a field in disarray,” Edwards continues. “Revisions are sometimes necessary, but unnecessary revisions are likely to be without benefit.”
Edwards writes that experience working with patients has shown that there is, in fact, an intermediary step of disruptive drinking, such as alcohol abuse, that does not meet the higher threshold for dependence. Further, he states, the new, single category would deviate significantly from the diagnostic criteria set out by the World Health Organization in its diagnostic manual, the International Classification of Diseases. “The consequence may be that the DSM comes to be seen as enshrining an
American point of view, whereas the ICD would be the international currency,” Edwards concludes.