Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Last Day of ACPN by Guest Blogger Dr. Kastenberg!


ACNP Day 3

Rethinking Addictions


It was standing room only at today’s session chaired by David Kupfer, MD on the updates to the DSM.  The changes to three sections were discussed at length:  Autism Spectrum Disorder, Schizophrenia Spectrum, and Addictions.  But I want to focus on the addictions category.

As background, researchers developed the DSM to give one another standard criteria for psychiatric disorders and a common language.  So when you perform a research study to examine 100 people with major depression, other researchers will know just what you are describing.   The plan is always to update the information, stay current with new findings, and even include reliable markers for illness in the criteria.

In keeping with these goals, the substance disorders work group removed two of the criteria for substance dependence:  tolerance and withdrawal.*   Tolerance describes the need to take more of a substance over time to achieve the same effect and withdrawal describes symptoms that occur when a person abruptly stops a sunstance.  These are normal physiologic responses. 

Dr. O’Brien emphasized what doctors in the trenches have been discussing with their patients for years.  Being tolerant or experiencing withdrawal to a medication does not make you an addict. 

* They made some other interesting changes too, but those are not described here.