Diagnostic Criteria for Substance Abuse and Dependence

I’m taking a class called Contemporary Issues in Addiction. One of the things we’re learning about is how different clinicians think about addiction. Here are the official diagnostic criteria for substance abuse and dependence, word-for-word from the DSM-IV-TR:

Criteria for Substance Abuse

A. A maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by one (or more) of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:

(1) recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to substance use; substance-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household)

(2) recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by substance use)

(3) recurrent substance-related legal problems (e.g., arrests for substance-related disorderly conduct)

(4) continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication, physical fights)

B. The symptoms have never met the criteria for Substance Dependence for this class of substance.

Criteria for Substance Dependence

A maladaptive pattern of substance use, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three (or more) of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:

(1) tolerance, as defined by either of the following:

(a) a need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect

(b) markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance

(2) withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:

(a) the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance (refer to Criteria A and B of the criteria sets for Withdrawal from the specific substances)

(b) the same (or a closely related substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms

(3) the substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended

(4) there is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use

(5) a great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance (e.g., visiting multiple doctors or driving long distances), use the substance (e.g., chain-smoking), or recover from its effects

(6) important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use

(7) the substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance (e.g., current cocaine use despite recognition of cocaine-induced depression, or continued drinking despite recognition that an ulcer was made worse by alcohol consumption)

Specify if:

With Physiological Dependence: evidence of tolerance of withdrawal (i.e., either Item 1 or 2 is present)

Without Physiological Dependence: no evidence of tolerance or withdrawal (i.e., neither Item 1 nor 2 is present)

Course specifiers (see text [below] for definitions)

Early Full Remission

Early Partial Remission

Sustained Full Remission

Sustained Partial Remission

On Agonist Therapy

In a Controlled Environment

Here are those definitions, from pp. 196-7:

Early Full Remission. This specifier is used it, for at least 1 month, but for less than 12 months, no criteria for Dependence or Abuse have been met.

Early Partial Remission. This specifier is used it, for at least 1 month, but less than 12 months, one or more criteria for Dependence or Abuse have been met (but the full criteria for Dependence have not been met).

Sustained Full Remission. This specifier is used if none of the criteria for Dependence of Abuse have been met at any time during a period of 12 months or longer.

Sustained Partial Remission. This specifier is used if full criteria for Dependence have not been met for a period of 12 months or longer; however, one or more criteria for Dependence or Abuse have been met.

On Agonist Therapy. This specifier is used if the individual is on a prescribed agonist medication such as methadone and no criteria for Dependence or Abuse have been met for that class of medication for at least the past month (except tolerance to, or withdrawal from, the agonist). This category also applies to those being treated for Dependence using a partial agonist or an agonist/antagonist.

In a Controlled Environment. This specifier is used if the individual is in an environment where access to alcohol and controlled substances is restricted, and no criteria for Dependence or Abuse have been met for at least the past month. Examples of these environments are closely supervised and substance-free jails, therapeutic communities, or locked hospital units.

[Post first published on Nathen’s Miraculous Escape, October 4, 2010.]

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“Gaming”

This quote came after a shocking first-person description of what it’s like to work at a casino, mostly ripping off the Social Security and pensions of elderly folks with gambling problems:

“In this politically correct decade, the most horrific politically correct term ever created is the one that the gambling industry has made into an everyday word: Gaming. There is no game here. You pay and you lose; that is the game.”

Addiction Treatment, Van Wormer & Davis, p. 7

[First published on Nathen’s Miraculous Escape, October 20, 2010.]

Rituals and Alcoholism in the Family

I just read in Brock & Barnard’s Procedures in Marriage and Family Therapy about Wolin and colleagues’ research into rituals in alcoholic families. Apparently, the negative effects of an alcoholic parent were predicted better by the amount that family rituals were disrupted by the alcoholism than by the presence of alcoholism itself. For example, if the family continued to eat dinner together every night, continued with their bedtime rituals, etc, children remained about as well off as those in non-alcoholic households. But if the family rituals were destroyed, the children were much worse off, including much more likely to become alcoholic or marry an alcoholic themselves.

I haven’t read any of the original research, so I don’t know for sure if it is that these rituals actually provide resiliency or if the presence or lack of rituals served as a proxy measure for how bad the alcoholism was. It could also be a combination of the two. It does look like the family therapy literature considers that rituals promote resiliency in general, providing structure and comforting predictability for kids, and resulting in better outcomes. (I doubt they are bad for the adults, either.)  Something to think about, parents!

[First published on Nathen’s Miraculous Escape, May 15, 2010.]