The classification of substance and behavioural addictions: A preliminary investigation

Abstract

The term addiction has been used to refer to impaired control over substance use for several centuries however recently there has been a shift toward using this term in the context of non-substance use disorders, such as pathological gambling. A preliminary investigation was conducted in an attempt to clarify the most appropriate classification of 'behavioural addictions'. Participants with alcohol dependence (AD, n = 24), pathological gambling (PG, n = 20) and compulsive buying disorder (CBD, n = 14) completed an Addictive Disorder Questionnaire (ADQ); the Symptom Checklist 90 Revised (SCL-90R); Barratt Impulsivity Scale II; and substance specific adaptations of the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS). Although the AD group reported more severe addiction symptoms and had higher levels of depression and anxiety, there were broad similarities across the three disorders in relation to cravings, dyscontrol, impulsivity and obsessions. Despite the small sample size and the different recruitment strategies used across the groups, the findings from this preliminary study provide support for broadening addiction diagnostic definitions to include non-substance related disorders which in turn may contribute to the development of more efficacious treatments.

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