May 14, 2012

Proposed addiction definition changes may increase diagnoses

The definition of addiction is under proposal of changes from mental health specialists and other specialists in the field, which could increase the number of those each year diagnosed with addiction, having an effect not only on the individuals who receive the diagnosis, but also health insurers and tax payers, the New York Times reports.

According to the report, there are proposed changes to be made to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or D.S.M., which would expand the list of recognized symptoms for drug and alcohol addiction, while also reducing the number of symptoms required for a diagnosis.

The D.S.M. is part medical guidebook, part legal reference. It dictates whether insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid, will pay for treatment, and whether schools will expand financing for certain special-education services.

As part of the proposed changes, in addition to expanding some of the recognized symptoms for drug and alcohol addiction, the D.S.M. would also, for the first time, include gambling as an addiction.

Another possible change would be the addition of a catch-all category called “behavioral addiction –not otherwise specified.” According the New York Times, some public health experts are concerned about this catch-all category as it may be to easily used by doctors to diagnose those with shopping, sex or Internet addictions.

The addiction revisions are scheduled to take effect in May 2013, but between specialists, the association and economists, the proposed changes have already sparked controversy.

Click here to read the full story in the New York Times.


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