Individuals have struggled with addictions for centuries. The focus of addiction treatment has historically been on drugs and alcohol. The mental health, psychiatric and medical fields are becoming more familiar with addictions and gaining respect for the additional substances and behaviors that qualify as addictions. The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders) will be revising its newest version, coming out in My 2013, to include the category of “behavioral addictions.” This is a big validation and huge step for the addictions community and offers help to millions suffering with troubling addictions. You can read more about it in this New York Times article that came out this week.

How to know if you are dealing with an addiction . . .

ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE is defined by the current DSM-IV-TR as:

(A) A maladaptive pattern of drinking, 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:

Need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect; or markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol

The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol; or drinking (or using a closely related substance) to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms

Drinking in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended.

Persistent desire or one or more unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control drinking

Important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced because of drinking

A great deal of time spent in activities necessary to obtain, to use, or to recover from the effects of drinking

Continued drinking despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to be caused or exacerbated by drinking.

(B) No duration criterion separately specified, but several dependence criteria must occur repeatedly as specified by duration qualifiers associated with criteria (e.g., “persistent,” “continued”).

Source: Adapted from American Psychiatric Association (APA). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC: APA, 2000.

As we broaden the concept of addiction, “alcohol” can be replaced with other substance(s) or behavior(s).

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be suffering with an addiction, contact me for a full addiction evaluation. ADDICTIONS ARE POWERFUL. I CAN HELP.