Expanding the definition of addiction: DSM-5 vs. ICD-11

CNS Spectr. 2016 Aug;21(4):300-3. doi: 10.1017/S1092852916000183. Epub 2016 May 6.


While considerable efforts have been made to understand the neurobiological basis of substance addiction, the potentially "addictive" qualities of repetitive behaviors, and whether such behaviors constitute "behavioral addictions," is relatively neglected. It has been suggested that some conditions, such as gambling disorder, compulsive stealing, compulsive buying, compulsive sexual behavior, and problem Internet use, have phenomenological and neurobiological parallels with substance use disorders. This review considers how the issue of "behavioral addictions" has been handled by latest revisions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), leading to somewhat divergent approaches. We also consider key areas for future research in order to address optimal diagnostic classification and treatments for such repetitive, debilitating behaviors.

Keywords: Addiction; behavioral addiction; classification; diagnosis; impulsivity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / classification*
  • Compulsive Behavior / classification
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders*
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / classification
  • Gambling / classification*
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • International Classification of Diseases*
  • Internet*
  • Sexual Behavior / classification*