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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2004 Jul;192(7):494-502.

Craving and withdrawal as core symptoms of alcohol dependence.

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  • 1St. Lucas Andreas Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


There is ongoing debate regarding the validity of the distinction of alcohol abuse and dependence, the distinction between normality and alcohol abuse, and the absence of craving in the DSM-IV classification of alcohol use disorders. In this study, we examine the discriminant validity of the DSM-IV alcohol use disorder diagnoses in three different populations (98 patients from an alcohol treatment service, 68 nontreatment-seeking heavy drinkers, and 75 psychiatric outpatients). We compare the results of the DSM-IV classification with an alternative classification that requires craving and withdrawal for the diagnosis of dependence and at least two DSM-IV abuse-dependence symptoms for the diagnosis of abuse: the Craving Withdrawal Model (CWM). Although the total prevalence of any alcohol use disorder did not differ between DSM-IV and CWM, the distinction between normality and abuse and between abuse and dependence was better for the CWM categories.

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