Characteristics of Addiction
Can behavioural addictions such as gambling be classified similarly to
Clinical criteria of addiction (Carnes 1991):
A behaviour that is out of control
Inability to stop despite these consequences
Persistent pursuit of self-destructive or risky behaviour
Desire to stop the behaviour
Use of the behaviour as a coping strategy
Increasing levels of the behaviour needed to get the same effect
Lots of time spent both in trying to engage in the behaviour as well
Severe mood changes when carrying out the behaviour
Social, occupational, and recreational activities sacrificed
Griffiths (1996) believes these ten criteria can be subsumed nicely into
the following six:
The behaviour becomes the most important thing to the person and they
have it on their minds for much of the time. Alcohol and nicotine
addicts tend not to be so obvious in this regard, since they are able to
combine their addiction with other behaviours in social settings.
However, once deprived of their fix, salience becomes far more apparent.
2. Mood modification
The addict gets a rush or buzz when engaged in the behaviour. The
addict is also able to use their behaviour to bring about a mood
change. Interestingly, the same chemical or behaviour can alter mood in
different directions depending on time or setting. Nicotine can
stimulate in the morning or relax before sleep.
Usually associated with chemical addiction such as alcohol or heroin,
this one can also be applied to behaviours. Basically the addict needs
bigger and bigger hits to get the same effect as they did initially with
smaller amounts. Risk-taking behaviour, for example, tends to get more
extreme over time.
4. Withdrawal symptoms
Changes in mood, shakes, irritability etc. as a result of cessation.
Applies to behavioural as well as chemical addiction.
The pursuit of short term pleasure can cause conflict with other;
parents, spouse, friends and can also result in conflict within the
A tendency to return to the behaviour, months or even years after an
apparent Ďcure.í Again this is just as common with behavioural
addiction as it is with chemical.
Griffiths believes that all six need to be present for a diagnosis of
addiction. However, others disagree, believing that addiction doesnít
always result in undue disruption to a personís lifestyle and
occasionally no withdrawal symptoms are experienced on cessation.
Addiction or enthusiasm?
If it adds quality to a personís life: Enthusiasm
If it detracts from a personís life: Addiction
The main thrust of this topic is synoptic and looks, yet again, at the
main theoretical approaches or perspectives to psychology: