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Keywords:

  • Harmful Use of Alcohol;
  • Alcohol Abuse;
  • Alcohol Dependence;
  • ICD-10;
  • DSM-IV;
  • Nosological Comparison.

The purpose of this study was to compare ICD-10 and the proposed DSM-IV (options 1 and 2) diagnostic criteria for harmful use/abuse and dependence in a representative sample of the United States general population. Harmful use/abuse and dependence categories were contrasted in terms of prevalence and overlap. The prevalences of DSM-IV diagnoses of alcohol abuse and dependence combined were much greater than those for the corresponding ICD-10 diagnoses. Disaggregation of the harmful use/abuse and dependence diagnoses showed that the major discrepancy between the classification systems resided between harmful use and abuse categories. The prevalence of the harmful use of alcohol was nearly nonexistent in this general population sample. Reasons for this and other discrepancies are discussed in terms of the hypothesized severity of the harmful use criteria, differences in the number of diagnostic criteria and the content of the ICD-10 and DSM-IV dependence categories, the relationship between the harmful use/abuse and dependence categories, and the impact of the duration criterion.