Addictive behavior

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Addiction and dependence glossary [1] [2] [3] [4]
  • addiction – a biopsychosocial disorder characterized by persistent use of drugs (including alcohol) despite substantial harm and adverse consequences
  • addictive drug – psychoactive substances that with repeated use are associated with significantly higher rates of substance use disorders, due in large part to the drug's effect on brain reward systems
  • dependence – an adaptive state associated with a withdrawal syndrome upon cessation of repeated exposure to a stimulus (e.g., drug intake)
  • drug sensitization or reverse tolerance – the escalating effect of a drug resulting from repeated administration at a given dose
  • drug withdrawal – symptoms that occur upon cessation of repeated drug use
  • physical dependence – dependence that involves persistent physical–somatic withdrawal symptoms (e.g., fatigue and delirium tremens)
  • psychological dependence – dependence that involves emotional–motivational withdrawal symptoms (e.g., dysphoria and anhedonia)
  • reinforcing stimuli – stimuli that increase the probability of repeating behaviors paired with them
  • rewarding stimuli – stimuli that the brain interprets as intrinsically positive and desirable or as something to approach
  • sensitization – an amplified response to a stimulus resulting from repeated exposure to it
  • substance use disorder – a condition in which the use of substances leads to clinically and functionally significant impairment or distress
  • tolerance – the diminishing effect of a drug resulting from repeated administration at a given dose

An addictive behavior is a behavior, or a stimulus related to a behavior (e.g., sex or food), that is both rewarding and reinforcing, and is associated with the development of an addiction. Apart from the aforementioned addictive behaviors the most common one would be substance addiction (including alcohol, tobacco, drugs and cannabis). [5] There is a medical model which perceives addictive behavior as a disease that is caused by uncontrollable and recessive drug use overtimes and the addict barely has control of it. [6] The other view is from the moral standpoint which regards addictive behavior as an intentional choice was freely made by the addict. [6] Addictions involving addictive behaviors are normally referred to as behavioral addictions.


Compulsion vs addiction

Compulsions and addictions are intertwined and reward is one major distinction between an addiction and a compulsion (as it is experienced in obsessive-compulsive disorder). An addiction is, by definition, a form of compulsion, and both addictions and compulsions involve operant reinforcement. In addition, dopamine is released in the brain's reward system and is a motive for behaviour (i.e. the compulsions in addiction development through positive reinforcement). [7]

There are two main differences when it comes to compulsion versus addiction. Compulsion is the need and desire to do something or carry out a task regardless of the individual being aware of what they are doing is incorrect. Whereas addiction is often the following step after compulsion where an individual needs to do a task or take a substance to feel pleasure and satisfaction. The main differences are that compulsion does not necessarily include pleasure for the individual but addiction does.

In contrast, someone who experiences a compulsion as part of obsessive-compulsive disorder may not perceive anything rewarding from acting on the compulsion. Often, it is a way of dealing with the obsessive part of the disorder, resulting in a feeling of relief (i.e., compulsions may also arise through negative reinforcement). [8]

Deep brain stimulation to the nucleus accumbens, a region in the brain involved heavily in addiction and reinforcement learning, has proven to be an effective treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. [9]

Correlation between different personality traits and addictive behaviors online

The study indicates that there is a difference in personality traits for addictive behaviors that is associated with distinctive online tasks. [10] Namely, higher neuroticism and less conscientiousness have a correlation with internet addiction overall; [10] less conscientiousness and low openness to experience are connected with addiction to video games, [10] neuroticism and extraversion were linked with social networking addiction. [10]

Development of addictive behaviors in adolescents

The expansion of addictive behaviors in adolescence contains different phases. [11] In the first stage, one has the ability to control appetitive motivational tendencies, but they do not have the motivation to do so. [11] Once enough drug or alcohol-related problems emerged, individuals tend to have more encouragement to adjust appetitive desires. [11] In this circumstance, personal willingness and ability are hindered. [11] there are a more powerful appetitive stimulation and a weaker ability to balance this response desire. [11] The shortcoming between these aspects are the essence of addictive behaviors in adolescents. [11]

Therapy for addictions

Addictions might give an individual a sense of power, confidence, endorsement, or other feelings that they might not attain in their real life. [12] Psychotherapy is a way to help people distinguish rough feelings and distress factors to adapt and grow. [12] People that have trouble with addictive behaviors are unlikely to regulate those actions by themselves unless someone leads them to work on addressing the root of their addictive behaviors, such as trauma, stress, anxiety, and so on. [12] There are a lot of types of therapy that can help people address the addictive behaviors which they want to alter. [12] An individual who has an addictive behavior would most likely have the biggest advantage from consulting with a therapist that is recognized by the medical institution or organization to be the expert in the particular area of addiction or compulsion in terms of potential causes. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

Pornography addiction is an addiction model of compulsive sexual activity with concurrent use of pornographic material, despite negative consequences to one's physical, mental, social, or financial well-being. ICD-11 has recently recognized compulsive sexual behavior (CSBD) as an "impulsive control disorder". CSBD is not an addiction and should not be conflated with sex addiction. The DSM-5 however, does not classify compulsive pornography consumption as a mental disorder or a behavioral addiction.

The mesolimbic pathway, sometimes referred to as the reward pathway, is a dopaminergic pathway in the brain. The pathway connects the ventral tegmental area in the midbrain to the ventral striatum of the basal ganglia in the forebrain. The ventral striatum includes the nucleus accumbens and the olfactory tubercle.

Drug withdrawal, drug withdrawal syndrome, or substance withdrawal syndrome, is the group of symptoms that occur upon the abrupt discontinuation or decrease in the intake of pharmaceutical or recreational drugs.

Nucleus accumbens Region of the basal forebrain

The nucleus accumbens is a region in the basal forebrain rostral to the preoptic area of the hypothalamus. The nucleus accumbens and the olfactory tubercle collectively form the ventral striatum. The ventral striatum and dorsal striatum collectively form the striatum, which is the main component of the basal ganglia. The dopaminergic neurons of the mesolimbic pathway project onto the GABAergic medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens and olfactory tubercle. Each cerebral hemisphere has its own nucleus accumbens, which can be divided into two structures: the nucleus accumbens core and the nucleus accumbens shell. These substructures have different morphology and functions.

Drug tolerance or drug insensitivity is a pharmacological concept describing subjects' reduced reaction to a drug following its repeated use. Increasing its dosage may re-amplify the drug's effects; however, this may accelerate tolerance, further reducing the drug's effects. Drug tolerance is indicative of drug use but is not necessarily associated with drug dependence or addiction. The process of tolerance development is reversible and can involve both physiological factors and psychological factors.

Alcohol dependence Medical condition

Alcohol dependence is a previous psychiatric diagnosis in which an individual is physically or psychologically dependent upon alcohol.

Motivational salience is a cognitive process and a form of attention that motivates or propels an individual's behavior towards or away from a particular object, perceived event or outcome. Motivational salience regulates the intensity of behaviors that facilitate the attainment of a particular goal, the amount of time and energy that an individual is willing to expend to attain a particular goal, and the amount of risk that an individual is willing to accept while working to attain a particular goal.

Problem gambling Repetitive gambling despite demonstrable harm and adverse consequences

Problem gambling or ludomania is repetitive gambling behavior despite harm and negative consequences. Problem gambling may be diagnosed as a mental disorder according to DSM-5 if certain diagnostic criteria are met. Pathological gambling is a common disorder that is associated with both social and family costs.

Neuropharmacology is the study of how drugs affect cellular function in the nervous system, and the neural mechanisms through which they influence behavior. There are two main branches of neuropharmacology: behavioral and molecular. Behavioral neuropharmacology focuses on the study of how drugs affect human behavior (neuropsychopharmacology), including the study of how drug dependence and addiction affect the human brain. Molecular neuropharmacology involves the study of neurons and their neurochemical interactions, with the overall goal of developing drugs that have beneficial effects on neurological function. Both of these fields are closely connected, since both are concerned with the interactions of neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, neurohormones, neuromodulators, enzymes, second messengers, co-transporters, ion channels, and receptor proteins in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Studying these interactions, researchers are developing drugs to treat many different neurological disorders, including pain, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, psychological disorders, addiction, and many others.

Substance dependence, also known as drug dependence, is a biopsychological situation where-by an individual's functionality is dependent on the necessitated re-consumption of a psychoactive substance, because of an adaptive state that has developed within the individual from psychoactive substance consumption, which results in the experience of withdrawal, which necessitates the re-consumption of the drug. A drug addiction, a distinct concept from substance dependence, is defined as compulsive, out-of-control drug use, despite negative consequences. An addictive drug is a drug which is both rewarding and reinforcing. ΔFosB, a gene transcription factor, is now known to be a critical component and common factor in the development of virtually all forms of behavioral and drug addictions, but not dependence.

Sexual addiction, also known as sex addiction, is a state characterized by compulsive participation or engagement in sexual activity, particularly sexual intercourse, despite negative consequences.

Sensitization is a non-associative learning process in which repeated administration of a stimulus results in the progressive amplification of a response. Sensitization often is characterized by an enhancement of response to a whole class of stimuli in addition to the one that is repeated. For example, repetition of a painful stimulus may make one more responsive to a loud noise.

Reverse tolerance or drug sensitization is a pharmacological phenomenon describing subjects' increased reaction to a drug following its repeated use. Not all drugs are subject to reverse tolerance.

Reward system Group of neural structures responsible for motivation and desire

The reward system is a group of neural structures responsible for incentive salience, associative learning, and positively-valenced emotions, particularly ones involving pleasure as a core component. Reward is the attractive and motivational property of a stimulus that induces appetitive behavior, also known as approach behavior, and consummatory behavior. A rewarding stimulus has been described as "any stimulus, object, event, activity, or situation that has the potential to make us approach and consume it is by definition a reward". In operant conditioning, rewarding stimuli function as positive reinforcers; however, the converse statement also holds true: positive reinforcers are rewarding.

Psychological dependence is a cognitive disorder that involves emotional–motivational withdrawal symptoms, e.g. anxiety and anhedonia, upon cessation of prolonged drug abuse or certain repetitive behaviours. It develops through frequent exposure to a psychoactive substance or behaviour, though behavioural dependence is less talked about. The specific mechanism involves a neuronal counter-adaption, which could be mediated through changes in neurotransmittor activity or altered receptor expression. Withdrawal symptoms can be attenuated by environmental enrichment and physical activity. Psychological dependence is not to be confused with physical dependence, which induces physical withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of use. However they are not mutually exclusive.

FOSB Protein

Protein fosB, also known as FosB and G0/G1 switch regulatory protein 3 (G0S3), is a protein that in humans is encoded by the FBJ murine osteosarcoma viral oncogene homolog B (FOSB) gene.

Behavioral addiction is a form of addiction that involves a compulsion to engage in a rewarding non-substance-related behavior – sometimes called a natural reward – despite any negative consequences to the person's physical, mental, social or financial well-being. Addiction canonically refers to substance abuse; however, the term's connotation has been expanded to include behaviors that may lead to a reward since the 1990s. A gene transcription factor known as ΔFosB has been identified as a necessary common factor involved in both behavioral and drug addictions, which are associated with the same set of neural adaptations in the reward system.

Addiction Disease resulting in compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences

Addiction is a neuropsychological disorder characterized by persistent use of a drug despite substantial harm and adverse consequences. Repetitive drug use often alters brain function in ways that perpetuate craving and undermine self-control. This phenomenon—drugs reshaping brain function—has led to an understanding of addiction as a brain disorder with a complex variety of neurobiological and psychosocial factors that are implicated in its development. Classic hallmarks of addiction include compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, preoccupation with substances or behavior, and continued use despite adverse consequences. Habits and patterns associated with addiction are typically characterized by immediate gratification, coupled with delayed deleterious effects.

Exercise addiction is a state characterized by a compulsive engagement in any form of physical exercise, despite negative consequences. While regular exercise is generally a healthy activity, exercise addiction generally involves performing excessive amounts of exercise to the detriment of physical health, spending too much time exercising to the detriment of personal and professional life, and exercising regardless of physical injury. It may also involve a state of dependence upon regular exercise which involves the occurrence of severe withdrawal symptoms when the individual is unable to exercise. Differentiating between addictive and healthy exercise behaviors is difficult but there are key factors in determining which category a person may fall into. Exercise addiction shows a high comorbidity with eating disorders.

Addiction vulnerability is an individual's risk of developing an addiction during his or her lifetime. There are a range of genetic and environmental risk factors for developing an addiction that vary across the population. Genetic and environmental risk factors each account for roughly half of an individual's risk for developing an addiction; the contribution from epigenetic risk factors to the total risk is unknown. Even in individuals with a relatively low genetic risk, exposure to sufficiently high doses of an addictive drug for a long period of time can result in an addiction. In other words, anyone can become an individual with a substance use disorder under particular circumstances. Research is working toward establishing a comprehensive picture of the neurobiology of addiction vulnerability, including all factors at work in propensity for addiction.


  1. Nestler EJ (December 2013). "Cellular basis of memory for addiction". Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. 15 (4): 431–443. PMC   3898681 . PMID   24459410. Despite the importance of numerous psychosocial factors, at its core, drug addiction involves a biological process: the ability of repeated exposure to a drug of abuse to induce changes in a vulnerable brain that drive the compulsive seeking and taking of drugs, and loss of control over drug use, that define a state of addiction. ... A large body of literature has demonstrated that such ΔFosB induction in D1-type [nucleus accumbens] neurons increases an animal's sensitivity to drug as well as natural rewards and promotes drug self-administration, presumably through a process of positive reinforcement ... Another ΔFosB target is cFos: as ΔFosB accumulates with repeated drug exposure it represses c-Fos and contributes to the molecular switch whereby ΔFosB is selectively induced in the chronic drug-treated state.41 ... Moreover, there is increasing evidence that, despite a range of genetic risks for addiction across the population, exposure to sufficiently high doses of a drug for long periods of time can transform someone who has relatively lower genetic loading into an addict.
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    Addiction: A term used to indicate the most severe, chronic stage of substance-use disorder, in which there is a substantial loss of self-control, as indicated by compulsive drug taking despite the desire to stop taking the drug. In the DSM-5, the term addiction is synonymous with the classification of severe substance-use disorder.
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