With a new definition of addiction, students may want to rethink heavy drinking during the weekend.
The term “alcoholic” will be more broadly defined next year in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the manual of all psychiatric diagnoses used by clinicians around the world. The new DSM will increase the number of symptoms for alcoholism and drug addictions. The new symptoms would include drinking more than intended and craving alcohol, according to an article in The New York Times. Previously, an alcoholic was defined by having a dependency on alcohol that influences their decisions and behavior.
Numbers from the Harvard School of Public Health show that 31 percent of college students show signs of alcohol abuse, while six percent are dependent on alcohol. Under the DSM’s new definition, that means about 37 percent of college students may be considered alcoholics.
Doctors are hoping that this new definition of the term will help catch severe cases of alcoholism early, instead of when the problem is full-blown. Jessica Champion, substance abuse counselor at the University Counseling and Testing Center, favors the new definition.
In this year alone, Champion has helped 700 students who were mandated to get help by the University for alcohol abuse. Champion said that number doesn’t include students who were not required to get help but needed it.
Jennifer Summers, director of the Substance Abuse Prevention Program, doesn’t think this new definition will change the minds of many college students. Summers said that she thinks many students perceive drinking as the norm and that they don’t think they are at a risk of an alcohol problem.
“There are definitely students who fall into high-risk drinking,” Summers said.
She doesn’t think students will change their minds or actions with drinking, but she does think the new definition will help diagnose more students.
University freshman Matt Strazzulla finds the new definition a little disturbing.
“I believe that they might be overreacting just a bit,” Strazzulla said. “Most college students that I know do drink heavily on the weekends, but they do not develop addiction behavior.”
Champion thinks this new definition could cause a greater awareness and reduce the amount of drinking in college.
“I’d like to say it would stop college binge drinking,” Champion said.