R. C. Buckley’s commentary on Heirene, R. M., Shearer, D., Roderique-Davies, G., & Mellalieu, S. D. (2016). Addiction in extreme sports: An exploration of withdrawal states in rock climbers. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 5, 332–341.
Buckley’s commentary on our study of rock climber’s withdrawal experiences raises a number of important questions surrounding the concept of extreme or adventure sports addiction. Drawing on the few available investigations of this topic, we respond to Buckley’s questions here, though emphasize the need for further studies of extreme sports addiction in order to provide more empirically informed answers.
Extreme sports athletes are often labeled “adrenaline junkies” by the media, implying they are addicted to their sport. Research suggests during abstinence these athletes may experience withdrawal states characteristic of individuals with an addiction (Celsi, Rose, & Leigh, 1993; Franken, Zijlstra, & Muris, 2006; Willig, 2008). Despite this notion, no research has directly explored withdrawal experiences of extreme sports athletes.
Using semi-structured interviews, we explored withdrawal experiences of high (n = 4) and average-ability (n = 4) male rock climbers during periods of abstinence. We investigated the psychological and behavioral aspects of withdrawal, including craving, anhedonia, and negative affect; and differences in the frequency and intensity of these states between groups.
Deductive content analysis indicated support for each of the three categories of anhedonia, craving, and negative affect. Consistent with existing substance addiction literature, high-ability climbers recalled more frequent and intense craving states and negative affect during abstinence compared with average-ability climbers. No differences in anhedonic symptoms between high and average-ability participants were found.
Rock climbing athletes appear to experience withdrawal symptoms when abstinent from their sport comparable to individuals with substance and behavioral addictions. The implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Open science refers to a set of practices that aim to make scientific research more transparent, accessible, and reproducible, including pre-registration of study protocols, sharing of data and materials, the use of transparent research methods, and open access publishing. In this commentary, we describe and evaluate the current state of open science practices in behavioral addiction research. We highlight the specific value of open science practices for the field; discuss recent field-specific meta-scientific reviews that show the adoption of such practices remains in its infancy; address the challenges to engaging with open science; and make recommendations for how researchers, journals, and scientific institutions can work to overcome these challenges and promote high-quality, transparently reported behavioral addiction research. By collaboratively promoting open science practices, the field can create a more sustainable and productive research environment that benefits both the scientific community and society as a whole.