Behavioural addictions as a way to classify behaviours

Abstract

The concept of behavioral addiction as a way to classify behaviors that mirror the symptoms and consequences of classic alcohol and drug addictions has become of great interest to researchers and clinicians. The simplest definition of behavioral addiction is that these are disorders whose overt symptoms are behaviorally expressed, and are viewed-at least initially-as pleasurable and have attained an irresistible quality, such as the substance addictions. Further, scientists and others writing about behavioral addictions have described common elements that link them with substance addiction. Family studies have suggested a clear association between substance addictions and several behavioral addictions. For example, first-degree relatives of people with pathological gambling (PG) have high rates of substance abuse or dependence, as do the relatives of people with compulsive buying (CB). Little is known about the natural history of any of these conditions, yet nearly all are assumed to be chronic, though fluctuating in severity and intensity, based on clinical experience. To obtain a fully informed understanding of the disorders, these disorders should be viewed as different and unique behavioral expressions of addictions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA)

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