Comorbidity between behavioral addictions and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review


We aimed to conduct a systematic review to examine the rates of comorbid Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and various behavioral addictions, including gambling disorder, food addiction/binge-eating disorder, sex addiction/hypersexuality disorder, Internet addiction/Internet gaming disorder, compulsive buying disorder, and exercise addiction.

PubMed and Web of Science were searched for articles published before December, 2015. Exclusion criteria were studies with either behavioral addictions or ADHD only, but not both; review articles, case reports, case series, book chapters, and letters to the editor. Studies not using standardized diagnostic criteria for ADHD, gambling disorder, or binge-eating disorder were also excluded.

Of the 3126 citations found, 14 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Five reported results for rates of comorbid ADHD and gambling disorder, three for those of ADHD and binge-eating disorder, two for those of ADHD and sex addiction, and four for those of ADHD and Internet addiction. No studies were found to report rates of comorbid ADHD and compulsive buying disorder or exercise addiction. The prevalence of comorbid ADHD in individuals with behavioral addictions ranged from 5.8 % to 88.3 %. The prevalence of comorbid behavioral addictions in those with ADHD ranged from 5.9 % to 71.8 %.

This systematic review revealed a high degree of co-occurrence of ADHD and behavioral addictions. The findings of this review shed light on the need to explore the links between ADHD and behavioral addictions and their implications for treatment.

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