Information on the policy of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs regarding the appropriate use of the term "abuse"
In recent years it has become increasingly apparent that the clinicians and researchers who submit manuscripts to the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs have been using the term alcohol or other substance "abuse" in a variety of ways and to describe quite different phenomena. For example, some contributors have limited the use of the term substance "abuse" to describe the symptoms of individuals meeting the specific criteria for a diagnosis of abuse as listed in the third, the third revised, or the fourth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). On the other hand, some authors have used the term "abuse" as a substitute for "use of an illegal substance," or to indicate some substance-related problems that do not necessarily meet the criteria set forth in any standard diagnostic manual.
In an effort to avoid the confusion that may arise when different authors use the same term to describe different phenomena or experiences, the Journal is now requesting that authors use the term substance "abuse" only in a DSM III, III-R, or IV context in accepted manuscripts. As with dependence, it is also important to state which diagnostic manual is being used. Other non-DSM definitions of the term "abuse" may be permitted providing that they relate to specific diagnoses listed in other previously published major diagnostic systems (e.g., ICD-9).
If authors are using the term "abuse" other than in connection with the diagnoses specified in the DSM or other published systems, we ask that they change their terminology. For alcohol, alternative terms might include "alcohol misuse" or "heavy" or "problem use" of alcohol. For illegal substances, authors might refer to "illicit substance use" or "use of illicit drugs."
On a final note, the Journal strongly encourages authors to carefully distinguish between the terms "abuse" and "dependence" (as defined in the DSM or other major published nomenclature) in their papers.
For more information on the Journal's definition of this or other terms, authors should contact either the editor or the associate editor assigned to handle their manuscripts.