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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 Jan 1;127(1-3):215-9. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.07.009. Epub 2012 Aug 9.

Prevalence of DSM-IV and DSM-5 alcohol, cocaine, opioid, and cannabis use disorders in a largely substance dependent sample.

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  • 1Center for Studies of Addiction, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States.



The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) will soon replace the DSM-IV, which has existed for nearly two decades. The changes in diagnostic criteria have important implications for research and for the clinical care of individuals with Substance Use Disorders (SUDs).


We used the Semi-Structured Assessment for Drug Dependence and Alcoholism to evaluate the lifetime presence of DSM-IV abuse and dependence diagnoses and DSM-5 mild, moderate, or severe SUDs for alcohol, cocaine, opioids, and cannabis in a sample of 7,543 individuals recruited to participate in genetic studies of substance dependence.


Switches between diagnostic systems consistently resulted in a modestly greater prevalence for DSM-5 SUDs, based largely on the assignment of DSM-5 diagnoses to DSM-IV "diagnostic orphans" (i.e., individuals meeting one or two criteria for dependence and none for abuse, and thus not receiving a DSM-IV SUD diagnosis). The vast majority of these diagnostic switches were attributable to the requirement that only two of 11 criteria be met for a DSM-5 SUD diagnosis. We found evidence to support the omission from DSM-5 of the legal criterion due to its limited diagnostic utility. The addition of craving as a criterion in DSM-5 did not substantially affect the likelihood of an SUD diagnosis.


The greatest advantage of DSM-5 for the diagnosis of SUDs appears to be its ability to capture diagnostic orphans. In this sample, changes reflected in DSM-5 had a minimal impact on the prevalence of SUD diagnoses.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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