Chapter 30 The pitfalls of recycling substance use disorder criteria to diagnose behavioral addictions


While increasing academic attention has been paid to behavioral addictions (i.e., non-substance-related addictive behaviors) over the past fifteen years, new diagnoses of questionable clinical relevance have proliferated in the literature.

This is mainly due to the widespread adoption of research practices that emphasize apparent symptomatic similarities with well-established substance-related addictions, thus inevitably simplifying complex and multi-determined phenomena. The current chapter presents a critical account of such systematic application of the biomedical model of addiction (i.e., the confirmatory approach) to non-substance-related addictive behaviors.

The chapter provides an overview of the main pitfalls involved in recycling substance-use disorder criteria to conceptualize and diagnose behavioral addictions. In a plea for a psychological approach to non-substance-related addictive behaviors, specific suggestions as to how best to avoid falling into the trap of the confirmatory approach are presented.


Maèva Flayelle - ORCiD:

Adriano Schimmenti - ORCiD:

Vladan Starcevic - ORCiD:

Joël Billieux - ORCiD:


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