Behavioral addictions: Where to draw the lines?

Abstract

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of behavioral addictions can be confusing, at times, because the line between normative and pathological behaviors is not well defined. Behavioral addictions are conditions that create significant harm to individuals, families, and society. This article reviews the current and proposed diagnostic criteria of 3 prevalent behavioral addictions: (1) pathological gambling, (2) hypersexual disorders, and (3) compulsive shopping. Differential diagnoses are discussed and clinical characteristics are presented to facilitate clinicians in clarifying the difference between pathology and habit. Treatment options for these behavioral addictions are presented along with case studies.

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