Stanton Peele: Are We Creating Our Own Addiction Surge?


drewleavy / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The American Psychiatric Association creates the gold standard for diagnoses of mental disorders in the United States—and worldwide—through its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. DSM-IV was published in 1994. In 2013, DSM-5 was released. As Stanton Peele described in the March, 2014 issue of Reason, DSM-5 eliminates the distinction between dependence and abuse. Instead it classifies substance use disorders as mild, moderate, or severe. The change immediately aroused suspicion, including accusations that the psychiatric establishment and pharmaceutical industry were expanding the whole treatment enterprise by including "mild" substance use disorders, as well as recognizing things other than substances as being addictive.

Peele's own argument is more fundamental. The ways of thinking about substance use and disorders embedded in DSM-5 and promoted by American psychiatry, he says, are actually causing an epidemic of these disorders.