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The proposed criteria for alcohol and cannabis use disorders in the 11th edition of ICD (ICD-11) will be presented to the World Health Assembly in 2017, but the beta-phase descriptions have been released. We compared them with those in the tenth edition (ICD-10) and the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM fourth edition (DSM-IV) and fifth edition (DSM-5), in a nationally representative sample of adult Australians. Disorders were assessed with the WHO World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic Interview. The proportions classified as being dependent on alcohol and cannabis were similar with ICD-10, ICD-11, and DSM-IV, whereas for DSM-5, the proportion of lifetime users meeting the criteria for moderate to severe use (most comparable to dependence in the other systems) was far higher. We assessed whether criteria for alcohol and cannabis use described unidimensional syndromes for each, and all definitions seemed to do so. Classification of alcohol and cannabis use disorders, although simplified in ICD-11, was in almost perfect agreement with the classifications of ICD-10 and DSM-IV. With DSM-5, use disorder seemed to capture a different aspect of problematic use and selected a different group of individuals from the other systems. How the newest definitions will become used remains to be seen. The choice of classification might depend on the clinical population of interest.

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