Can we call behaviours addictive?

Clinical College of the Australian Psychological Society
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Clinical Psychologist, 2002, 6, pp. 44 - 49
Issue Date:
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The question of whether behaviours can be addictive in the same sense as psychoactive substances has been debated in psychology for some time. Increased understanding of the brain reward system tends to support this notion. The way in which behaviours may modulate that system, coupled with self-report and behavioural analysis, suggests three characteristics of substances or behaviours that may lead to addictions. The reward system must register a relatively rapid and substantial improvement in hedonic state, the user unable to find alternative ways of obtaining this improvement, and the performance of the addictive behaviour leads to maladaptive functioning and a state of chronic 'ysphoria. Cognitive and social factors may also influence the development and maintenance of addiction.
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