Question: What Constitutes an Addiction?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (Fourth Edition) Text Revision, which is the current official text on which diagnoses are based, and contains the criteria
for addiction and other mental health problems. However, the DSM does not define addiction specifically. Rather, problems which fall under the umbrella of addiction are dispersed throughout the manual.
Alcohol and Drug Addictions
The criteria for addiction to alcohol and drugs are typically diagnosed using the criteria for substance dependence. There are seven criteria for substance dependence.
To be diagnosed, the person would have to have at least three of the criteria within the same year.
The first two criteria, tolerance and withdrawal, are central to “physiological dependence” on a drug. A person can be diagnosed with substance dependence either with or without the “physiological dependence,” although a person is at greater risk of medical problems and relapse if he does not have “physiological dependence.”
The seven criteria for substance dependence are:
(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 or B of the criteria sets for Withdrawal from specific substances).
(b) The same (or a closely related) substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.