Addiction is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as Substance Use Disorders. These disorders vary based on the specific substance one is using, as well as the severity of the problem. The current edition of the DSM no longer uses the terms “substance abuse” and “substance dependence.” Rather, abuse and dependence fall under Substance Use Disorder when looking at the severity of an individual’s problems with substances. Depending on the diagnostic criteria that one meets, the severity of their Substance Use Disorder is placed on a scale of mild, moderate, or severe. For example, the DSM-5 presents a set of eleven symptoms for Opioid Use Disorder. These symptoms include various aspects of addiction, such as cravings, time spent acquiring the drug, tolerance, and withdrawal. Mild Opioid Use Disorder is defined by a patient presenting 2-3 symptoms, moderate defined by the 4-5 symptoms, and severe with 6 or more symptoms. It is important to recognize that there is a difference between addiction and dependence. Physical dependence only makes up a few symptoms of various Substance Abuse Disorders. In fact, it is entirely possible for an individual who does not suffer from the disease of addiction to develop physical dependence. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “it is possible to be dependent on morphine, without being addicted to morphine. (Although, if one is addicted, they are most likely dependent as well.) This is especially true for people being treated chronically with morphine, for example, pain associated with terminal cancer. They may be dependent – if the drug is stopped, they suffer a withdrawal syndrome. But, they are not compulsive users of the morphine, and they are not addicted.” This is because addiction and dependence are controlled by two separate brain areas. Addiction is derivative of malfunctions in the reward system of the brain, while dependence develops in the thalamus and brainstem. Addiction as a disease is complex. However, we are often aware that our lives have become unmanageable as a result of addiction long before we receive a diagnosis.
Addiction is a progressive and fatal disease, and it is imperative that we seek help as early as possible. You can make the decision to begin the journey toward recovery and begin building a brighter future today. Oceanfront Recovery, a treatment facility in beautiful Laguna Beach, is staffed with experienced professionals who understand addiction and can help you develop all the tools necessary to achieve and maintain sobriety. For more information about treatment options, please call today: (877) 279-1777