Theory and news about general psychology, psychopharmacology, DSM-5, and the high sensation seeking personality.

What happened to polysubstance in DSM5?

Hello Dr. Carter,

I attended your workshop on the DSM-5.  First of all, thank you for an excellent, informative and engaging workshop.  I had asked about coding for a patient who would have been diagnosed with Polysubstance dependence in the DSM-IV-TR.  It wasn't clear to me if I was expected to catalog all of the substances that were abused or if I should use the "Other" category and specify multiple substances.

Thank you for inviting me to follow up with you on this matter.


Yes. That's my understanding of how to diagnose it. In DSM-IV you could indicate polysubstance when a client had no preference for a particular thing. Apparently, that's not how most people used it. They saw "poly" and thought that it meant more than one.

In DSM-5 you are encouraged to investigate and document each individual substance of abuse. 

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Dr. Carter