Is there a diagnosis for addiction?

The diagnosis of drug addiction (substance use disorder) requires a thorough evaluation and often includes evaluation by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed alcohol and drug counselor. Blood, urine, or other laboratory tests are used to evaluate drug use, but they are not a diagnostic test for addiction. Addiction is a chronic condition that is difficult to diagnose and treat. While the signs may be clear, the diagnosis is first based on the person with an addiction or those close to them recognizing and wanting to address the problem.

What Defines Substance Use Disorder? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is the official text on which diagnoses are based, contains criteria for substance use disorders and other mental health problems. The latest version of the DSM, known as DSM-5, presents some significant changes to the list of substance use disorders and the criteria that must be met to diagnose them. These 13 principles of effective drug addiction treatment were developed on the basis of three decades of scientific research. Research shows that treatment can help people who are addicted to stop using drugs, avoid relapses and successfully recover their lives.

Patients entering treatment for psychiatric illnesses should be screened for substance use disorders and vice versa. However, accurate diagnosis is complicated by similarities between drug-related symptoms, such as withdrawal, and those of potentially comorbid mental disorders. Therefore, when people who use drugs enter treatment, it may be necessary to observe them after a period of abstinence to distinguish between the effects of substance intoxication or withdrawal and the symptoms of comorbid mental disorders. This practice results in more accurate diagnoses and allows for better targeted treatment, 80,81. The first step in diagnosis is based on a friend, family member or the person with addiction recognizing the need for treatment.

Jennie Hovey
Jennie Hovey

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