Changes in the nomenclature of addictions suggest a significant shift in the conceptualization of addictions, where non-substance related behaviors can also be classified as addictions. A large amount of data provides empirical evidence that there are overlaps of different types of addictive behaviors in etiology, phenomenology, and in the underlying psychological and biological mechanisms. Our aim was to investigate the co-occurrences of a wide range of substance use and behavioral addictions.
The present epidemiological analysis was carried out as part of the Psychological and Genetic Factors of the Addictive Behaviors (PGA) Study, where data were collected from 3,003 adolescents and young adults (42.6% males; mean age 21 years). Addictions to psychoactive substances and behaviors were rigorously assessed.
Data is provided on lifetime occurrences of the assessed substance uses, their co-occurrences, the prevalence estimates of specific behavioral addictions, and co-occurrences of different substance use and potentially addictive behaviors. Associations were found between (i) smoking and problematic Internet use, exercising, eating disorders, and gambling (ii) alcohol consumption and problematic Internet use, problematic online gaming, gambling, and eating disorders, and (iii) cannabis use and problematic online gaming and gambling.
The results suggest a large overlap between the occurrence of these addictions and behaviors and underlies the importance of investigating the possible common psychological, genetic and neural pathways. These data further support concepts such as the Reward Deficiency Syndrome and the component model of addictions that propose a common phenomenological and etiological background of different addictive and related behaviors.