Thursday, May 17

US Alcoholics might increase by 60% next year!

It's not because of a particular increase in alcohol consumption, or any type of actual increase in people who become alcoholics. It's because the American Psychiatric Association is coming up with a new definition of addiction that will see the number of people classified as alcoholics increase by that much.

The American Psychiatric Association writes and maintains the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM for sure. It's the go-to book that every mental health professional refers to when diagnosing a mental illness.

They're planning on releasing the 5th edition of the DSM next year, and one of the changes they're proposing is to expand the list of recognized symptoms for drug and alcohol addiction.

For example, if you often drink more than you intend and crave alcohol, you will be considered a mild addict. Under DSM-4, you needed to have more serious symptoms like missing your duties, being arrested or driving while drunk before you were diagnosed as an addict.

The result will be that an estimated 20 million people will be considered addicts, who now are just unhealthy users rather than abusers. They estimate that up to 40% of college students would fall under this definition!

This decision is drawing fire because it has huge implications beyond the simple diagnosis. For one, the DSM is what insurance companies use to decide what treatments they pay. If so many people are considered addicts, then health care costs could rise dramatically.

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