Assessing Marijuana

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BMDC uses the criteria identified in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) (American Psychiatric Association 1994), to diagnose marijuana dependence (exhibit IV-I) and marijuana abuse (exhibit IV-2). These criteria help the counselor determine a client's level of substance involvement and the associated consequences, as well as appropriate level of treatment. These criteria also can be used in later sessions to measure treatment effectiveness.

The symptoms of substance dependence typically are assessed first; substance abuse is considered a less severe substance use disorder, and its symptoms are assessed only if the client does not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of substance dependence. For this reason, tolerance, withdrawal, and symptoms describing impaired control over use are not included in the diagnosis of substance abuse. However, it may be useful to complete the assessment of abuse criteria even if dependence has been diagnosed to learn more about the nature and extent of negative consequences that result from the dependent use pattern.

The guidelines presented here will help the counselor make a diagnosis of marijuana dependence or abuse. If the counselor does not have the credentials required for making a diagnosis, he or she must receive verification from a State-qualified individual.

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