The "urge to classify" the drug user: A review of classifications by pattern of abuse

Arie Cohen, Martha D. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attempts to classify drug abusers are divided into three main categories: (1) psychiatric classifications, (2) psychosocial classifications and (3) classifications by pattern of abuse. The present article focuses on pattern of abuse classifications which are divided into two subcategories: (a) by substance of abuse and (b) by degree of involvement. The various groups of these classifications are reviewed and their potential uses are discussed. The review indicates that classifications by substance of abuse may be useful for administrative and theoretical purposes, while their clinical uses are limited to medical emergencies. On the other hand, classifications by degree of involvement are useful for initial treatment planning and for predicting treatment outcomes. The authors conclude that for a thorough treatment planning and for better understanding of the addiction process, psychosocial classifications may be the most useful approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1249-1260
Number of pages12
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1986


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