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Author: Marc N. Potenza

Multiple controversies exist currently in the field of behavioral addictions. The opinion article by Billieux, Schimmenti, Khazaal, Maurage and Heeren (2015) proposes an approach to considering which behaviors might be considered as foci for addictions. The article raises multiple important points that foster further dialog and highlight the need for additional research. Given that how specific behaviors are considered from diagnostic and classification perspectives holds significant public health implications, targeting and eliminating current knowledge gaps relating to behavioral addictions is an important undertaking.

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There has been much debate regarding the extent to which different types and patterns of gaming may be considered harmful from individual and public health perspectives. A recent event in which a hospitalized patient was reported to have died while a care provider was gaming is worth considering as an example as to how gaming may distract individuals from work-related tasks or other activities, with potential negative consequences. As the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases is being developed, events like these are important to remember when considering entities like, and generating criteria for, disordered or hazardous gaming.

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Promoting educational, classification, treatment, and policy initiatives

Commentary on: Compulsive sexual behaviour disorder in the ICD-11 (Kraus et al., 2018)

Authors: Mateusz Gola and Marc N. Potenza

The letter by Kraus et al. (2018) published recently in World Psychiatry presents diagnostic criteria for compulsive sexual behaviors (CSBs). Here, we discuss the potential impact of including CSB disorder in ICD-11 for four areas: educational efforts related to CSB (for both clinicians and patients), investigation of underlying mechanisms and subtypes, development of personalized treatment frameworks, and answering socially important questions and advancing important prevention efforts and effective policies. Each of these four areas has their own challenges that should be addressed, and we briefly describe and discuss them. We hope that this information will help continue a dialog and provide a framework for moving forward in this area.

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Background

How best to conceptualize problematic pornography use (PPU) and intervene most effectively remain debated, with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) and addiction frameworks. We investigated the efficacy of the serotonin-reuptake inhibitor paroxetine in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of problematic pornography use (PPU).

Case presentation

Three heterosexual males with PPU were treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy and paroxetine. Frequency of pornography use, other sexual behaviors, and anxiety were assessed during treatment.

Discussion

Paroxetine treatment, although seemingly initially effective in reducing pornography use and anxiety, appeared related to new compulsive sexual behaviors after 3 months.

Conclusions

Paroxetine may hold promise for short-term reduction of PPU and related anxiety, but new potentially distressing sexual behaviors may emerge. The cases suggest that PPU may arise from multiple domains. We propose an explanation of the effects based on recent neuroscientific research on sexual behaviors and alcohol use.

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Background and aims

Mindfulness-based approaches, derived from centuries of eastern philosophy and practice, have been increasingly incorporated into western medicine. For example, data support the efficacy of mindfulness-based therapies to reduce stress and promote mental health.

Methods

In this study, we briefly review models and approaches to sexual health in the context of considering compulsive sexual behavior disorder, describe mindfulness-based approaches to stress, addiction, and compulsive sexual behaviors, and present a Mindful Model of Sexual Health (MMSH) that incorporates elements of eastern and western philosophies. We further illustrate the clinical utility of the MMSH in a clinical case description.

Results

We propose the MMSH as a holistic and integrative model that honors and acknowledges individual differences and provides mindfulness-based tools and practices to support individuals to proactively manage, balance, and promote sexual and mental health. The MMSH may be used as a framework to organize information regarding physical, mental, emotional, sexual, and relational health, as well as a conceptual map offering navigational skills to access information within one’s mind/body to make informed decisions to promote well-being regarding sexual satisfaction and health. In its organizational structure, the MMSH is divided into eight domains that are theoretically linked to biological functions and may be used to identify and overcome barriers to sexual health through mindful inquiries in clinical practice or educational settings.

Discussion and conclusion

Given its focus on awareness of interoceptive processes through mind/body connectedness, the MMSH may resonate with a wide range of individuals, including those with compulsive sexual behavior disorder.

Open access

Abstract

Background/Aims

Studies have reported higher prevalences of four behavioral addictions (binge eating, compulsive shopping, hypersexuality, and pathological gambling) in dopamine agonist-treated Parkinson's disease relative to non-dopamine agonist-treated Parkinson's. However, recent case-control and epidemiological studies suggest that prevalences of behavioral addictions in dopamine agonist-treated Parkinson's may be similar to background population rates. This study tests that hypothesis by examining the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) for evidence of these associations, taking into account the potential impact of publicity on reporting rates.

Methods

FAERS reports in 2004 (pre-publicity for all but pathological gambling) and 2007 (post-publicity for all four behaviors) were analyzed. A threshold consisting of ≥3 cases, proportional reporting ratio ≥2, and χ2 with Yates' correction ≥4 was used to detect signals (drug-associated adverse reactions) involving any of five dopamine agonists and any of four behavioral addictions.

Results

No reports containing compulsive shopping and no signal for binge eating and dopamine agonists were found in either year. A weak signal was found for hypersexuality in 2004, with a stronger signal in 2007. A robust signal was found for pathological gambling in 2004, with a more robust signal in 2007.

Discussion/Conclusions

These results suggest that publicity may increase reporting rates in the FAERS. Findings for binge eating, compulsive shopping, and hypersexuality suggest that prevalences of these behaviors among those treated with dopamine agonists may be similar to background population rates and thus may not reflect an adverse safety signal. Further investigation of the relationship between dopamine agonists and behavioral addictions is warranted.

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Authors: Gemma Mestre-Bach, Gretchen R. Blycker and Marc N. Potenza

Abstract

With the global expansion of the COVID-19 pandemic, social or physical distancing, quarantines, and lockdowns have become more prevalent. Concurrently, Pornhub, one of the largest pornography sites, has reported increased pornography use in multiple countries, with global traffic increasing over 11% from late February to March 17, 2020. While some substantial increases have coincided with Pornhub making its premium services free to countries in lockdowned or quarantined jurisdictions, countries without such free premium access have also reported increases in the range of 4–24%. In addition, pornography searches using the terms “coronavirus”, “corona”, and “covid” have reached more than 9.1 million. In this letter, we discuss COVID-19-related pornography-use patterns and the impact they may have with respect to problematic pornography use.

Open access

Abstract

Background

Decision-making and risk-taking behavior undergo developmental changes during adolescence. Disadvantageous decision-making and increased risk-taking may lead to problematic behaviors such as substance use and abuse, pathological gambling and excessive internet use.

Methods

Based on MEDLINE searches, this article reviews the literature on decision-making and risk-taking and their relationships to addiction vulnerability in youth.

Results

Decision-making and risk-taking behaviors involve brain areas that undergo developmental changes during puberty and young adulthood. Individual differences and peer pressure also relate importantly to decision-making and risk-taking.

Conclusions

Brain-based changes in emotional, motivational and cognitive processing may underlie risk-taking and decision-making propensities in adolescence, making this period a time of heightened vulnerability for engagement in addictive behaviors.

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Recommendations for increasing research on co-occurring serious mental illness and gambling problems

Commentary on: Disordered gambling and psychosis: Prevalence and clinical correlates (Cassetta et al., 2018)

Authors: Rebecca E. Pullman, Marc N. Potenza and Shane W. Kraus

Psychiatric disorders frequently co-occur with gambling disorder. Although community and clinical samples show frequent co-occurrence between gambling and psychotic disorders, relatively little research has been conducted on this population. Here, we comment on a recent study conducted in Brazil on the clinical correlates of psychotic disorders in treatment-seeking individuals with gambling disorder, relate the findings to those from the northeastern region of the United States, and discuss implications with respect to promoting responsible gambling in the setting of the expansion of legalized gambling.

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