New alcoholism standards may classify teens as alcoholics - KOTA Territory News

New alcoholism standards may classify teens as alcoholics

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Revisions to a mental health manual may classify many panhandle teens as alcoholics.

The newest version of DSM, psychiatry's mental health manual, blurs the line between problem drinkers and alcoholics.

The changes combine 'alcohol abuse' and 'alcohol dependence' into a single condition called 'alcohol use disorder'.

This change may lead many teen drinkers to be labeled as alcoholics.

Data collected by the Panhandle Prevention Coalition in 2012 shows 74 percent of panhandle high schoolers tried alcohol before graduating.

Lanette Richards, director of Monument Prevention Coalition is one of many who think the new classification is necessary.

"I think that it is important because, there again, when you look at underage use, it becomes a dependency," Richards says.  "Whether you want to classify it as alcoholism or just a dependency it really doesn't matter."

Richards says it's up to parents and adults to play an active role in early alcohol education.

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