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Criteria for the establishment of a new behavioural addiction •

Commentary to the debate: “Behavioral addictions in the ICD-11”

Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Matthew J. Gullo
Andrew P. Wood
, and
John B. Saunders


When does repeated behaviour constitute behavioural addiction? There has been considerable debate about non-substance-related addictions and how to determine when impaired control over a behaviour is addiction. There are public health benefits to identifying new behavioural addictions if intervention can improve outcomes. However, criteria for establishing new behavioural addictions must guard against diagnostic inflation and the pathologizing of normal problems of living. Criteria should include clinical relevance (Criterion 1), alignment with addiction phenomenology (Criterion 2) and theory (Criterion 3), and taxonomic plausibility (Criterion 4). Against such criteria, evidence does not yet support classification of pornography-use and buying-shopping disorders as addictions.

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