Considering the definition of addiction

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011 Oct;8(10):4025-38. doi: 10.3390/ijerph8104025. Epub 2011 Oct 20.


The definition of addiction is explored. Elements of addiction derived from a literature search that uncovered 52 studies include: (a) engagement in the behavior to achieve appetitive effects, (b) preoccupation with the behavior, (c) temporary satiation, (d) loss of control, and (e) suffering negative consequences. Differences from compulsions are suggested. While there is some debate on what is intended by the elements of addictive behavior, we conclude that these five constituents provide a reasonable understanding of what is intended by the concept. Conceptual challenges for future research are mentioned.

Keywords: addiction; definition.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / physiopathology
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Compulsive Behavior / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Satiation
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Terminology as Topic*