Craving as an alcohol use disorder symptom in DSM-5: An empirical examination in a treatment-seeking sample.
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Craving has been added as an alcohol use disorder (AUD) symptom in DSM-5 but relatively few nosological studies have directly examined the empirical basis for doing so. The current study investigated the validity of craving as an AUD symptom in a sample of heavy drinking treatment-seeking individuals. Using a semistructured clinical interview, individuals (N = 104; 62% male) were assessed for symptoms of DSM-IV AUD. The extent to which individuals endorsed pathological levels of craving in comparison with other AUD symptoms was investigated as was the association between craving and several aspects of problematic alcohol involvement. Factor analysis was utilized to examine whether craving and other AUD symptoms comprised a unidimensional syndrome. Results indicated that craving was significantly positively correlated with AUD severity, quantitative indices of drinking, and adverse consequences of alcohol abuse. In terms of frequency of endorsement, craving was present in 47% of the sample and was the 8th most frequent of the 12 symptoms evaluated. When considered with the DSM-IV AUD criteria, craving aggregated with other symptoms to form a unidimensional syndrome. Extending previous findings from epidemiological samples, these data suggest that, in a clinical sample, many relevant aspects of craving aggregate to form a diagnostic criterion that functions similarly to other AUD symptoms and is related to diverse aspects of alcohol-related impairment.
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