Last month, psychiatrists and other specialists agreed on a new, more-encompassing definition of addiction that could lead to 20 million new addicts in 2013. The revision was made to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which is used by psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and other providers throughout the industry to diagnose and treat a variety of mental ailments. Insurers also use the DSM to decide which services they will cover. The authors of the manual not only expanded the number of recognized addiction symptoms, they also reduced the number of symptoms required for an addiction diagnosis.
According to the APA, the change was made so that addicts can be treated early, but others worry that the expansion will artificially inflate addiction statistics. The DSM also has a new catch-all diagnosis called “behavioral addiction – not otherwise specified”. This diagnosis could be used to diagnose individuals with gambling, sex, internet, and video game addictions, which will further inflate addiction statistics.
Addiction is a sign of the times
At almost the same time experts expanded the definition of addiction, Damian Thompson, a columnist for of the UK newspaper The Telegraph, released a book, The Fix: How addiction is Invading Our Lives and Taking Over Your World, which claims addiction is not a disease but a product of one’s environment. During an interview with the BBC, Thompson explains the point in which he started to believe addiction was not a disease, “I got very fed up with the way the word disease was bandied around in the AA rooms. Either you had the disease or you didn’t.” Thompson goes on to say he worries that addictive behavior is spreading throughout society, and that people who haven’t been labeled with the addiction disease are starting to develop worrying habits to things such as pornography. Thompson blames our environment.
The digital communication age has made pleasurable content, such as pornography and gambling, easier to access. Video games and television shows are specifically designed to be addictive. As a result people are developing strong habits. In an article published in The Telegraph , Thompson compares the current rise in addictive behavior with the surge of heroin use among American soldiers in serving Vietnam. Many American GIs became addicted to the drug because they had access to cheap, high-quality heroin while overseas. When they returned home, pure heroin was hard to find, and many kicked the habit. Using Thompson’s logic, the only way to cure our society’s addiction problem is to eliminate the temptation. That could be easier said than done as information becomes more accessible every day. Whatever the cause, a spike in addicts means there a greater demand for addiction psychiatrists.
Psychiatry locum tenens is one of our core competencies at Barton Associates. We have an experienced team of psychiatry locum tenens recruiters and account managers that are well positioned to connect locum psychiatrists and psychiatric NPs with great locum jobs. We engage new facilities and practices every day, which means our portfolio of psychiatry jobs will grow along with demand.