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Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

Discussion: Implications of Labeling

Assessment starts out with the best of intentions. Addictions professionals apply labels associated with common presenting characteristics in order to provide an understanding of the type of help each person may require. This is the rationale behind the American Psychiatric Association’s classic Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), first published in 1952 to consolidate census and psychiatric hospital information. This resource crosses many fields, from medicine to psychiatry to psychology.

Despite the success of this text and the respect it has garnered in the field, a decades-long controversy has surrounded the use of labels in addictions. As the primary provider of labels, the DSM is at one end of the spectrum. At the other end are those who criticize labels as being too limiting for various reasons, including cultural considerations. (For the purposes of this course, culture goes beyond race and ethnicity to include other defining aspects, such as social group, neighborhood, sexual orientation, occupation, and others.) An individual’s behavior might be perceived as deviant by one culture but not by another. It is also important to remember that the DSM has undergone many revisions, the most recent in the DSM-5; it is important to stay abreast of the changes as they occur.

In this week’s Discussion, you will analyze the implications of labeling and cultural considerations in the addictions assessment process.

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To prepare

Review the Learning Resources, including the following articles:

By Day 4

Post your response to the following:

What role, if any, should labeling play in the addictions assessment process? In your response, include implications and cultural considerations.

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