A proposed revision to the definition of addiction by mental health specialists could lead to millions of additional people receiving an addiction diagnosis, The New York Times reports.

The revisions are scheduled for May 2013 edition of American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

The manual would enlarge the list of recognized symptoms for drug and alcohol addiction, and reduce the number of symptoms needed for a diagnosis.

The new manual would include gambling as an addiction for the first time. It may introduce a category called “behavioral addiction—not otherwise specified.  It might be useful for public health experts to diagnose various addictions, including shopping, video games, sex or the Internet.

The DSM is important for several reasons such as it is used by insurance companies. It is also use by schools to finance specific special-education services. Courts also use it in decision making process. Drug manufacturers rely on the manual when making decisions about research.

Some economists predict the new definition of addiction could add 20 million people, leading to additional costs running into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

American Psychiatric Association scientific review panel has asked for more evidence to support the revisions on addiction, several researchers involved with the manual noted the panel is unlikely to significantly alter the proposed revisions.

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