The Scope of Addiction Treatment Now Includes Behavioral Addictions

Addiction Treatment | LakehouseRecoveryCenter.comToday, addiction treatment centers are tending to more than just drugs and alcohol. There are addiction treatment centers for gambling, eating disorders, and sexual addictions.

In the past, when the word addiction was raised, people often thought of alcohol abuse or drug dependence.

However, the American Psychological Association (APA) recently redefined addiction to include much more than drugs and alcohol. In May 2013, the APA published a new edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the standardized text and clinical reference used by psychologists and therapists across North America to diagnose their clients.

The manual includes the names, features, symptoms, and demographical information on all the recognized mental illnesses, including addictions.


Behavioral Addictions

The DSM, fifth edition, includes a non-substance addiction diagnosis, for gambling, but also for any behavior that an individual has lost power over. Previously, gambling and other adAddiction Treatement | LakehouseRecoveryCenter.comdictions were categorized under Impulse Control Disorders. However, the recent version of the DSM now places non-substance addictions under a catchall category called “Behavioral Addiction, Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)”.

The reason for the change stems from a new definition of addiction. The DSM explains that the activation of the brain’s reward system is the key to drug abuse problems. Although drugs and alcohol can have a physical and psychological addiction, it is possible to develop an addiction to other behaviors and any activity that become the sole focus of one’s life to the exclusion and detriment of other life-activities. According to the APA, there is evidence that points to behaviors, such as gambling, having the same high, or rush in the brain that is similar to the use of drugs. In that way, addictions can resemble the physiological symptoms that the use of drugs and alcohol might create.

Additionally, the new version of the DSM removed the distinction between an individual with “drug dependence” versus a “drug abuse” condition. Although clinicians simply interpreted this as addictive behavior existing on a continuum, dependency being more severe than abuse, the new version of the DSM now reflects the view of professionals in the mental health field.

11 Criteria

There are eleven different criteria listed in the DSM that a clinician uses to determine the severity of an addiction. The number of criteria present for a patient indicates the severity of the addictive disorder. For example, 2-3 criteria indicate a mild disorder; 4-5 criteria indicate a moderate disorder; and 6 or more of the 11 criteria indicate a severe disorder.

The benefit of learning about addictions and the way that they are diagnosed is that it might provide information that indicates whether a problem exists. Addiction help now includes exploring whether the pattern of addiction exists in other areas of life. Residential treatment centers are not only addressing alcohol and drug detox but also exploring in detail the presence of addiction with food, work, sexual activity, and even recreational activities such as gambling and time on the Internet.

If you feel that the cycle of addiction is playing out in one or more areas of your life, you might seek addiction help by calling a mental health therapist.


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