In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Mental Health Diagnosis and the Addictive Substance Disorders

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Addressing Diversity, Special Populations, and International Perspectives
  • Policy and Practice Issues
  • Supervision of Professionals in Addictions

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Social Work Mental Health Diagnosis and the Addictive Substance Disorders
Sophia F. Dziegielewski, George Jacinto
  • LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0116


There are many types of addictions, although the purpose of this bibliography is to focus on only addictions related to the use of a substance. Substance use leading to abuse and dependence can have devastating effects on individuals, families, and society. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) employs diagnostic criteria and qualifiers for the identification and application of substance addictions. The literature includes terms that are often used interchangeably for substance dependence, such as chemical dependence and addiction. This bibliography will use the term substance dependence since it is the term used by the DSM-IV-TR 2000. DSM-5, scheduled for publication in 2013, is expected to change the entire classification system in the area of substance abuse, and dependence and review of the expected changes for DSM-5 would be helpful. Social workers have contributed much to the treatment of substance abuse and substance dependence, because they constitute a large portion of the providers of addiction and mental health services. Therefore, a working knowledge of the diagnostic criteria that constitute clinical significance and how these substances are viewed is essential. Changes in trends, patterns of use, types of substances being introduced, and new terminology in practice and policy as measurements of effectiveness and outcomes continue to fluctuate and adapt to new areas of inquiry and information. Educational curriculum in social work practices is also an area of expansion, with new courses specific to education on substance abuse and dependence to better prepare students who enter and encounter these concerns in respective settings. The reference works cited here highlight understanding and treatment aspects related to the addiction of substances both legal and illegal, using the DSM-IV-TR as the overarching criteria.

Reference Works

One major resource used for diagnosis, assessment, and subsequent billing for services in the field of social work practice is American Psychiatric Association 2000. This book is considered the official nomenclature in all mental health and other health-related facilities in the United States, and the next revision has an expected publication date of 2013. The substance disorders are one diagnostic category where the most common substances related to addictive symptomology and behavior are divided into four areas: abuse, dependence, intoxication, and withdrawal. There are additional resources that address concerns about providing effective interventions for clients that are appropriate to list in this section. Coombs and Howart 2005 provides tools for working with substance abusing and dependent individuals. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment 2007 is a sourcebook outlining current effective treatment modalities for practitioners to use in working with individuals with co-occurring disorders. These two works will be of benefit to the libraries of practitioners who work with individuals diagnosed with substance abuse or dependence. In addition, two Internet resources, MediLexicon and the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library, are excellent reference works for practitioners.

  • American Psychiatric Association. 2000. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.

    The most current version of the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Updated information includes cultural, gender, age, prevalence, and familial data, as well as updated research information related to mental disorders. The substance disorders are listed as one of the classifications and divided into eleven primary substance-related categories listed in terms of how they relate to abuse, dependence, and intoxication. Treatment approaches are not stressed in this reference, as it is a diagnostic and statistical manual only.

  • American Psychiatric Association. DSM-5: The future of psychiatric diagnosis.

    Outlines the history, developers, and changes expected in DSM-5, which is scheduled for publication in 2013.

  • Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. 2007. Substance abuse treatment for persons with co-occurring disorder inservice training. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    Designed for clinicians to be used as a tool for the treatment of people with co-occurring disorders.

  • Coombs, R. H., and W. A. Howatt. 2005. The addiction counselor’s desk reference. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    A reference tool for all professionals who work with individuals suffering from addictive disorders. The easy-to-use format provides practitioners an efficient resource for treatment planning.

  • MediLexicon.

    This site provides access to information regarding multiple sources in medical affairs, including but not limited to medical conditions, medications, patient resources, and the latest health news. It also offers free web-based tools.

  • Merck Manuals Online Medical Library.

    Private pharmaceutical company providing access to information for healthcare providers and patients, such as company-based manuals for mental health conditions, overview of treatment, products, and medications. This is an excellent reference for practitioners seeking information about the uses and side effects of drugs.

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