Gambling Disorder and Other Behavioral Addictions: Recognition and Treatment : Harvard Review of Psychiatry

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Gambling Disorder and Other Behavioral Addictions

Recognition and Treatment

Yau, Yvonne H. C. MSc; Potenza, Marc N. MD, PhD

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Harvard Review of Psychiatry 23(2):p 134-146, March/April 2015. | DOI: 10.1097/HRP.0000000000000051


Addiction professionals and the public are recognizing that certain nonsubstance behaviors—such as gambling, Internet use, video-game playing, sex, eating, and shopping—bear resemblance to alcohol and drug dependence. Growing evidence suggests that these behaviors warrant consideration as nonsubstance or “behavioral” addictions and has led to the newly introduced diagnostic category “Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders” in DSM-5. At present, only gambling disorder has been placed in this category, with insufficient data for other proposed behavioral addictions to justify their inclusion. This review summarizes recent advances in our understanding of behavioral addictions, describes treatment considerations, and addresses future directions. Current evidence points to overlaps between behavioral and substance-related addictions in phenomenology, epidemiology, comorbidity, neurobiological mechanisms, genetic contributions, responses to treatments, and prevention efforts. Differences also exist. Recognizing behavioral addictions and developing appropriate diagnostic criteria are important in order to increase awareness of these disorders and to further prevention and treatment strategies.

© 2015 President and Fellows of Harvard College

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