The DSM-V conference in San Diego should be helpful to start exploring the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  The DSM-V was released on May 18, 2013. I have read a few of the changes on DSM5.org and initially thought it to be overwhelming, but upon further review of the proposed changes they appear minor with the inclusion of additional disorders and changes in the categories. It seems they have removed the confusion often found associated with the disorders “Substance Abuse” and “Substance Dependence” by merging the two into a single “Substance Use Disorder” category, since the distinction between the two was not often clear. In addition, there is the inclusion of “Behavioral Addictions” under the new category “Addiction and Related Disorders“ which includes the single disorder “Gambling Addiction.” Another notable change is the addition of “Cannabis Withdrawal” which may be helpful in dispelling the myth that marijuana is not addictive. Here is a sneak preview of the guidelines for a diagnosis of cannabis withdrawal:

1. Had recently stopped using marijuana after having used it heavily for a long time

2. Experiences at least 3 of the following withdrawal symptoms within several days of stopping marijuana use:

  • Anger, irritability or feelings of aggression
  • Depressed mood
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • A loss of appetite (or weight loss)
  • Insomnia or other sleeping problems
  • Feelings of anxiety or nervousness
  • Physical symptoms of withdrawal, such as headache, stomach pains,

increased sweating, fever, chills or shakiness. To count as symptoms of withdrawal at least one of the above listed physical symptoms must be present and the severity of the symptom(s) must be great enough to cause substantial discomfort

3. The symptoms of withdrawal are severe enough to cause the person substantial problems with functioning at work or in social situations – or significant impairment in functioning in other important areas

4. The symptoms of withdrawal cannot be better explained by another physical or mental health condition

For further information about the new DSM-V, please visit: http://www.dsm5.org

-Tara Myers, M.S.

Primary Therapist at A Mission for Michael, Inc.