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Behavioral addiction (also called process addiction[1] or non-substance-related addiction [2][3]) is a recurring compulsion condition whereby a person engages in a specific activity despite harmful consequences to the person's health, mental state, or social life.[4][5] Behavioral addiction is considered harmful or deviant if it results in negative consequences for the person addicted and those with whom they associate.

The type of behaviors which some people have identified as being addictive include gambling, food, sex, pornography, computers, video games, internet, work, exercise, spiritual obsession (as opposed to religious devotion), pain [6], cutting and shopping.

The applicability of the word "addiction" to these conditions is controversial, and there is not a universal consensus as to the most appropriate phrase used to describe these conditions as a class.

Behavioral addictions has been proposed as a new class in DSM-5, but the only category included is gambling addiction. Internet addiction and sex addiction are included in the appendix.[7]

The term soft addiction was coined by Judith Wright to describe activities, moods or ways of being, avoidances, and things-edible and consumable but which do not pose a grave health disease risk - rather, they have the most effect on personal time and productivity. [8][9] These behaviors were profiled in a 2007 ABC News story titled Bad Habits.[10]

DSM / "Impulse control disorder"[edit | edit source]

There is disagreement as to the exact nature of behavioral addiction or dependency. [11] However, the biopsychosocial model is generally accepted in scientific fields as the most comprehensive model for addiction. Historically, addiction has been defined with regard solely to psychoactive substances (for example alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) which cross the blood-brain barrier once ingested, temporarily altering the chemical milieu of the brain. However, "studies on phenomenology, family history, and response to treatment suggest that intermittent explosive disorder, kleptomania, problem gambling, pyromania, and trichotillomania may be related to mood disorders, alcohol and psychoactive substance abuse, and anxiety disorders (especially obsessive–compulsive disorder)."[12]

In the case of pathological gambling, for example, the American Psychological Association classifies the condition as an impulse control disorder and not an addiction.[13]

Research[edit | edit source]

It is estimated that at least 90% of Americans have at least one form of soft addiction in their lives. Nadine Kaslow, PhD, professor of psychology and behavioral sciences at Emory University in Atlanta, has commented on the issue, saying that while it is healthy to relieve stress with behaviors like drinking coffee and watching television, when they become habitual they become problematic to one's health and happiness.[14]

Cyber-psychologist Kimberly Young, director of the Center for Online Addiction, has addressed Internet addiction, one of the most common types of "soft addictions". Young has likened excessive Internet use to pathological gambling.[15]

Research around addictions and social media sites has been growing. The Retrevo Gadgetology company recently came out with research suggesting that there is an obsessiveness to the way people are checking their pages.[citation needed]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Shaffer, Howard J.. Understanding the means and objects of addiction: Technology, the internet, and gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies 12 (4): 461–469.
  2. Albrecht U, Kirschner NE, Grüsser SM (2007). Diagnostic instruments for behavioural addiction: an overview. Psychosoc Med 4: Doc11.
  3. Potenza MN (September 2006). Should addictive disorders include non-substance-related conditions?. Addiction 101 Suppl 1: 142–51.
  4. (31 August 2009) Textbook of Anxiety Disorders, 359–, American Psychiatric Pub. URL accessed 24 April 2010.
  5. Parashar A, Varma A (April 2007). Behavior and substance addictions: is the world ready for a new category in the DSM-V?. CNS Spectr 12 (4): 257; author reply 258–9.
  6. Pain Addiction
  7. New Diagnostic Guidelines for Mental Illnesses Proposed: MedlinePlus. URL accessed on 2010-04-24. [dead link]
  8. (2006) The Soft Addiction Solution: Break Free of the Seemingly Harmless Habits that Keep You from the Life You Want, revised, reprint, J.P. Tarcher/Penguin.
  9. Judith Wright Appears on 20/20 Friday July 7. URL accessed on 2009-04-02.
  10. Bad Habits - ABC News. URL accessed on 2009-04-02.
  11. Goodman A (November 1990). Addiction: definition and implications. Br J Addict 85 (11): 1403–8.
  12. McElroy, S.L., J.I. Hudson, Hg. Pope Jr, P.E. Keck Jr and H.G. Aizley (1992). The DSM-III-R impulse control disorders not elsewhere classified: clinical characteristics and relationship to other psychiatric disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry 149 (3): 318–327.
  13. Should the scope of addictive behaviors be broadened to include pathological gambling?
  14. Soft addictions - information on. URL accessed on 2009-04-02.
  15. Portsmouth Herald Health News: You can get hooked on 'soft addictions'. URL accessed on 2009-04-02.


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