In recent years, you may have heard the term substance use disorder to describe addiction. That is because the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)—the text used to diagnose mental health disorders—changed the classification in the latest version; the most recent iteration, the DSM-5, was released in 2013.
In the previous DSM, addictions were separated into two diagnoses: substance dependence or substance abuse. However, the DSM-5 does not distinguish between dependence and abuse, as these are both part of addiction. Instead, substance use disorders are on a continuum from mild to severe, depending on how many symptoms a person exhibits.
Using the term “abuse” in regards to addiction stigmatizes a serious health problem. The term substance use disorder exists in part to break the stigma associated with addiction.
People may call their addiction by various names, but a formal diagnosis will be either substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder. Both substance use disorders and alcohol use disorders have 11 criteria for a diagnosis. For each, meeting 2 or 3 criteria is considered mild, 4 or 5 is moderate, and 6 or more is severe.
The mechanisms of addiction—which is a chronic brain disease—have never changed. However, the way we refer to it is important.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build a life in recovery from your substance use disorder. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.