Truth or consequences in the diagnosis of substance use disorders

Christopher S. Martin, James W. Langenbucher, Tammy Chung, Kenneth J. Sher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Aims: This commentary critically evaluates the use of substance-related negative psychosocial and health consequences to define and diagnose alcohol and other substance use disorders. Methods: Narrative review. Results: The consequences of substance use cause much suffering and are major public health and economic problems. However, there are a number of conceptual and measurement problems with using consequences as diagnostic criteria for substance disorders. Data indicate that substance-related consequences introduce systematic bias and degrade the validity of diagnostic systems. Conclusions: Negative psychosocial and health consequences of substance use should play a fundamentally reduced role in modern diagnostic systems for, and definitions of, addictive disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1773-1778
Number of pages6
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Addiction
  • Alcohol Use Disorders
  • Diagnosis
  • Health consequences
  • Psychosocial consequences
  • Substance Use Disorders


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