Behavioral addictions: where to draw the lines?

Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2012 Jun;35(2):279-96. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2012.03.001. Epub 2012 Apr 21.


Behavioral addictions can present in a variety of subtle and deceptive patterns. Because of the intense shame, guilt, and embarrassment felt by patients, it may fall to providers to utilize screening tools and deeper interviewing techniques to uncover the extent of these behaviors. Identifying when the line is crossed from recreation/habit to psychopathology relies on understanding current diagnostic criteria and consideration of cultural, ethnic, and local community standards. Individuals are also likely to cross back and forth between this line of pathology and habit, further clouding provider’s opinions of diagnosis; therefore, tracking and monitoring these symptoms over time is critical to establishing patterns of use and documenting ongoing consequences. Treatment for these conditions is emerging slowly, and treatment outcomes for these conditions appear to be similar to those with other addictive disorders.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavior, Addictive / diagnosis
  • Compulsive Behavior / classification
  • Compulsive Behavior / diagnosis*
  • Compulsive Behavior / psychology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Gambling / diagnosis*
  • Gambling / psychology
  • Gambling / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / diagnosis*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / therapy
  • Young Adult