Measures of substance consumption among substance users, DSM-IV abusers, and those with DSM-IV dependence disorders in a nationally representative sample

Howard B Moss, Chiung M Chen, Hsiao-Ye Yi
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 2012, 73 (5): 820-8

OBJECTIVE: Neither the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, Revised (DSM-III-R), nor the DSM-IV uses measures of substance consumption as part of the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders. Therefore, this report examined the extent to which frequency and/or quantity of consumption across a broad spectrum of substances are associated with DSM-IV diagnoses of specific substance use disorders and whether there are informative hierarchical levels of consumption among users, abusers, and those who are substance dependent in the U.S. general population.

METHOD: The analyses focused on consumption data from respondents of the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Disorders. Multinomial logistic regression was used to predict DSM-IV diagnoses of dependence or abuse based on the continuous consumption measures.

RESULTS: Among individuals who used substances, the substances with the greatest liability for dependence were nicotine first and cocaine second. For nearly all substances investigated, users without specific substance use disorders demonstrated lower levels of quantity and frequency of consumption relative to those with DSM-IV abuse and dependence disorders. Dose-response curves for the log odds of abuse and dependence suggested unidimensionality of abuse and dependence for frequency of alcohol drinking; frequency of cannabis use; frequency of opioid use; frequency of hallucinogen use; and, to a lesser extent, frequency of amphetamine use. However, the dose-response curves for the quantity of alcohol consumed demonstrated differential patterns for abuse and dependence such that alcohol dependence has a distinctly greater "quantity of use" relationship than that found among alcohol-abusing individuals.

CONCLUSIONS: These results confirm the findings of others concerning the unidimensionality of abuse and dependence diagnoses when consumption variables alone are examined and suggest that consumption measures may be useful metrics gauging severity.

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