Behavioural Addictions

Behavioural addiction (also called process addiction or non-substance-related addiction) is a recurring compulsion condition whereby a person engages in a specific activity despite harmful consequences to the person's health, mental state, or social life. Behavioural addiction is considered harmful or deviant if it results in negative consequences for the person addicted and those with whom they associate.

The type of behaviours that some people have identified as being addictive include gambling, food, sex, pornography, internet, videogames, internet, work, exercise,  and shopping.

Behavioural addiction has been proposed as a new class in DSM-5, but the only category included is gambling addiction. Internet addiction and sex addiction are included in the appendix

Signs of behavioural addictions

The signs of behavioural addictions are much the same as the signs of any type of substance addiction. There may be fewer physical signs, which can make it harder for friends and family to find out what is going on, or even for the sufferer to realize that they are struggling with an addiction. Some of the signs include:

  • Spending almost all of the time engaging in the behaviour, thinking about engaging in the behaviour, or dealing with the consequences of the behaviour.
  • Dealing with lots of negative consequences but not changing the behaviour as a result
  • Not being able to stop or cut back
  • Becoming dependent on the behaviour as a way of coping with emotions, problems, and anxiety.
  • Suffering from withdrawal symptoms when not able to feed the addiction
  • Lying about the extent of the problem or performing the behaviour in secret.
  • Feeling shame or depression after engaging in the behaviour


Although most of these addictions are not recognized by the DSM-5, the leading diagnostic guide for mental health professionals, many healthcare providers believe these are disorders that can be treated. Some common behavioural addictions include:

  • Exercise addiction
  • Food addiction
  • Gambling addiction
  • Internet addiction
  • Love addiction
  • Porn addiction
  • Sex addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Tattoo addiction
  • Video game addiction
  • Work addiction

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