The DSM-5 has combined the former “Substance Abuse” and “Substance Dependence” disorders into one new “Substance Use” disorder with mild, moderate, and severe modifiers.
The former Substance Dependence disorder implied “addiction” such as having tolerance buildup (needing to use more over time) or withdrawal symptoms (when not using). However, this is not the case for all substances that can be misused. Thus, making it difficult to make a clinically useful diagnosis.
Only time will tell us the implications of changing the diagnosis name, but a change has been needed for a long time.
By Dr. Terra Caudill, MD, MS