Assessing Addiction Disorders
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is the governing body that publishes the DSM which is commonly used in diagnosing various mental health problems. DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In this manual, there are various addiction-related disorders which are outlined with associated criteria which must be met in order for an individual to qualify for a formal diagnosis.
Importantly, the DSM recognizes that there are levels (or gradations) in the severity of substance abuse disorders. Non-professionals often times do not know this and assume that having a substance disorder is black-and-white when in reality substance dependence disorders occur along a scale of sorts from mild to moderate to severe. In the DSM-IV(R), there is a lesser diagnostic category than “dependence” called “substance abuse”. Individuals often meet criteria for a diagnosis of Substance Abuse before meeting requirements for the diagnostic category of “Substance Dependence”.
While assessing and diagnosing substance use disorders is not a perfect science, the DSM does offer useful guidelines for defining the characteristics of a substance abuse problem. The American Psychiatric Association has actually released an updated version of the DSM (the DSM-V) that will offer further modifications on how substance use disorders are classified.
The new ADS website now offers an online assessment constructed on the DSM-IV criteria that have been used for years in diagnosing substance abuse and substance dependence disorders. Anyone visiting our website can take this assessment. It’s free and anonymous. You do not need to provide your name or phone number. Once you complete the online assessment, you are provided with comments & recommendations based on your pattern of responses.