Tobacco Use Disorder

With the DSM-V, there is no longer a separate diagnosis of Opioid Dependence and Opioid Addiction. The two are combined into Opioid Use Disorder. Opioid Use disorder can be mild, moderate or severe. And all of the addictive substances have the same list. So here is Tobacco Use Disorder.

According to the DSM-5, there are three Criterion with 15 sub features, and four specifiers to diagnose Tobacco Use disorder. Use of tobacco products over one year has resulted in at least two of the following sub features:

A, Larger quantities of tobacco over a longer period then intended are consumed.

1. Unsuccessful efforts to quit or reduce intake of tobacco

2. Inordinate amount of time acquiring or using tobacco products

3. Cravings for tobacco

4. Failure to attend to responsibilities and obligations due to tobacco use

5. Continued use despite adverse social or interpersonal consequences

6, Forfeiture of social, occupational or recreational activities in favor of tobacco use

7. Tobacco use in hazardous situations

8. Continued use despite awareness of physical or psychological problems directly attributed to tobacco use

B. Tolerance for nicotine, as indicated by:

9. Need for increasingly larger doses of nicotine in order to obtain the desired effect

A noticeably diminished effect from using the same amounts of nicotine

C. Withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of use as indicated by

10. The onset of typical nicotine associated withdrawal symptoms is present

11. More nicotine or a substituted drug is taken to alleviate withdrawal symptoms

Additional specifiers indicate the level of severity of Tobacco use disorder

1. 305.1 (Z72.0) Mild: two or three symptoms are present.

2. 305.1 (F17.200) Moderate: four or five symptoms are present.

3. 305.1 (F17.200) Severe: Six or more Symptoms are present

(American Psychiatric Association, 2013).


We have much more stigma attached to Opioid Use Disorder, but list for Tobacco Use Disorder is the same. Most chronic pain patients on long term opioids qualify for at least mild Opioid Use Disorder. UW Telepain says that if they only have withdrawal and tolerance, then it is questionable if they qualify. They also have said that “we don’t know what to do with patients with mild opioid use disorder”.

I find our culture peculiar. People get accolades for saying “I am quitting smoking.” or “I am a recovering alcoholic.” But it’s not ok to say “I am a recovering opioid addict.” People will shun you. Demonize. Gossip. It’s all addiction, so we should stop the demonization and stigmatization and help people and each other.

The photograph is not a brain. I took this about a month ago: it’s a brain size mushroom that was in the church lawn…

Heart and brain and alcohol, 2018

For the Daily Prompt: infect. Maybe heart and brain health could be an infectious idea…..

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the US, around 24% of deaths every year. Strokes are fifth most common cause of death at 5%, dementia sixth most common at 3.6%, data here from 2014. Accidents have beaten strokes out for fourth place because of “unintentional overdose” deaths.

I did a physical on a man recently, who said what was the best thing he could do for his health?

“Reduce or better yet quit alcohol.” is my reply. Even though he’s within “current guidelines”. I showed him the first of these studies.

Two recent studies get my attention for the relationship between the heart and the brain and alcohol.

In this study:, 79,019 Swedish men and women were followed after completing a questionnaire about alcohol consumption.

They were followed from 1998 to 2009 and 7,245 cases of atrial fibrillation were identified. The relative risk for atrial fibrillation was alcohol dose dependent: that is, the people who did not drink had a relative risk of atrial fibrillation set at 1.0. At 1-6 drinks per week the risk was 1.07, at 7-14 per week the risk was 1.07, at 14-21 drinks per week 1.14 and at >21 drinks per week 1.39. They also break it down by number of drinks per day. So why do we care about atrial fibrillation? “Atrial fibrillation (AF)/atrial flutter (AFL), the most common cardiac arrhythmia, is accompanied with a 4- to 5-fold increased risk for stroke, tripling of the risk for heart failure, doubling of the risk for dementia, and 40% to 90% increase in the risk for all-cause mortality.”

Atrial fibrillation, stroke, congestive heart failure, dementia and 40-90% increase in all-cause mortality. Want to protect your brain and live longer? Quit alcohol.

Well, that instantly decreased my enthusiasm for alcohol, now down to one drink per week if that.

Here is a second study:

In the 599 912 current drinkers included in the analysis, we recorded 40 310 deaths and 39 018 incident cardiovascular disease events during 5·4 million person-years of follow-up. For all-cause mortality, we recorded a positive and curvilinear association with the level of alcohol consumption, with the minimum mortality risk around or below 100 g per week. Alcohol consumption was roughly linearly associated with a higher risk of stroke (HR per 100 g per week higher consumption 1·14, 95% CI, 1·10–1·17), coronary disease excluding myocardial infarction (1·06, 1·00–1·11), heart failure (1·09, 1·03–1·15), fatal hypertensive disease (1·24, 1·15–1·33); and fatal aortic aneurysm (1·15, 1·03–1·28). By contrast, increased alcohol consumption was log-linearly associated with a lower risk of myocardial infarction (HR 0·94, 0·91–0·97). In comparison to those who reported drinking >0–≤100 g per week, those who reported drinking >100–≤200 g per week, >200–≤350 g per week, or >350 g per week had lower life expectancy at age 40 years of approximately 6 months, 1–2 years, or 4–5 years, respectively.”

Ok, over half a million people followed, 40K+ deaths, 39K+ heart events (heart attack, atrial fibrillation, new congestive heart failure, etc), that’s a pretty impressive study.

A 5% 12 ounce beer is 14 grams of alcohol. Here: Our local brewery and pourhouse usually serve pints, 16 oz, and the range is from 5% to over 9% alcohol. Two 9% pints is how many standard drinks? You do the math. Currently the recommendations in the US are no more than seven drinks per week for women (98 grams) and fourteen for men (196 grams) per week, no saving it up for the weekend, no bingeing. The UK stops at 98 grams for both men and women. The rest of Europe goes higher.

Heart and brain, how I love you! I like my brain and don’t want to pickle it. I think I’ll choose heart and brain over alcohol, long term over short term, health over escapism.

Have a great week!


I took the photograph. It reminds me of neurons in the brain.

Adverse Childhood Experiences 5: Love your brain

L for Love your brain, in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

I have just been to another conference and met a woman neurologist. She is studying traumatic brain injury patients. She is applying for a grant to study adverse childhood experience scores in traumatic brain injury patients because they have noted that the people with fairly awful or very awful childhoods tend to cope better than the people with a nice childhood. She wants to do a formal study to see if this observation holds up.

Why would people who have had major trauma during childhood do better after a traumatic brain injury than those with a good childhood?

The suspicion is that their brains are wired differently. The high ACE score people have “crisis” wiring. They have brain wiring for survival in difficult circumstances. They have already used this wiring in childhood and have survived something or survived many things. When they have a catastrophic injury, the wiring kicks right in: ah, back to this, well, I can survive.

The brain is especially plastic as a child. We want to see all children treated well and loved and cared for, but it may be necessary as a species to have a survival back up. What if there is a disaster or a tsunami or a war? How do we adapt? Who survives? What becomes necessary that was unthinkable previously? Children are still growing up in the midst of wars and disasters and the crisis wiring is put in place to help them survive.

Children growing to adults in difficult circumstances work hard to survive and continue to work hard as adults. Dr. Clarke, from the OHSU primary care review, says that the personality characteristics of responsibility and hard work described in my last essay “produce a strong positive response from the world. Over time (sometimes a long time) this tends to overcome the poor self-esteem and eventually produces a major shift in how a person views him or herself. This major shift can be summarized as “I DESERVE BETTER.”

a. Often the individual will decide that they deserve a better partner or a better work environment.

b. Often they will no longer tolerate being treated disrespectfully.

c. Often there is the idea that the individual deserved better treatment when they were children.

d. The first relationship with a supportive, respectful partner may occur at this time. This, too, can be stressful because it is such a change from the past.

e. Resentment or anger about how the individual was treated as a child may be generated at this time though it may not be consciously acknowledged. It is common for the anger to be suppressed because it is an unpleasant emotion, because childhood stress survivors spent years learning how to control emotion and because the anger is often directed at people about who there is still some caring. When there is enough of this anger present it can cause physical symptoms that can be mild or severe or anywhere in between. Many people are unaware of how much anger they have. Highly educated people often have the most difficulty comprehending their level of anger.

f. Imagination techniques to uncover anger: pretending that you are watching a child you care about endure the same environment you did; pretend you are overhearing a conversation between a child you don’t know who suffers as you did and the child’s parent.

g. Often it is during this time of significant change in self-image that physical illness occurs.”*

My hope is that as we learn more about how the brain is wired in childhood and how versatile and adaptable it is, we will also gain understanding of the differences among adults. That we will grow in tolerance and in ability to support growth and healing, rather than judging and rejecting.

*Dr. Clarke has kindly given me permission to quote from his work. This is from his handout at the 46th Annual OHSU Primary Care Review.

Further reading, that I am looking forward to:
They can’t find anything wrong!, by David Clarke, MD. See also