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Increasingly referred to as process addiction or non-substance-related addiction  behavioral addiction includes a compulsion to repeatedly engage in an action until said action causes serious negative consequences to the person's physical, mental, social, and/or financial well-being. One sign that a behavior has become addictive is if it persists despite these consequences.
The ICD-10 of the World Health Organization does not single out behavioural addictions as an independent spectrum of mental disorders. Its recognition among psychiatrists is supposed to be hampered by the fact that the aetiology and pathogenetic mechanisms of the whole variety of addictive behaviour patterns are as yet undetermined. As a rule, different scientists tackle with different deviations, with the consequence that the results obtained include but fragments of information concerning particular forms of addiction. Few, if any, complex and methodologically validated studies have been made of addiction as such. The very concept of behavioural addiction is to be explicated. Research workers point out the lack of a definition of addiction which is scientifically useful.
Current investigations set out to clarify definitions and devise a diagnostic system. Patrick Carnes attaches paramount importance to a pathological relationship with a mood-altering experience. Aviel Goodman indicates that Carnes’s formulation represents an advance from earlier definitions because it implies that the basis of addiction is not a substance or a behaviour but an alteration of the emotional state. And yet this approach is susceptible to the criticism. Unless Carnes’s definition is followed by a specific definition of “pathological relationship,” it does not provide enough information to be useful in a scientific context. While sharing the advantages of Carnes’s definition, A. Goodman endeavours to propose diagnostic criteria specified in a format similar to that of DSM. He defines addiction as a disorder in which a behaviour that can function both to produce pleasure and to provide escape from internal discomfort is employed in a pattern characterized by:
- recurrent failure to control the behaviour;
- continuation of the behaviour despite significant harmful consequences.
Tsezar Korolenko who was the first to suggest a classification of non-chemical dependencies in Russia characterises addictive behaviour as the tendency to escape from reality by means of changing one’s mental condition.
This can be done in two basic ways: pharmacologically through the consumption of psychoactive substances and non-pharmacologically through concentration on certain objects and activities that are accompanied by subjectively pleasurable emotional states.
Behavioral addiction, which is sometimes referred to as impulse control disorders, are increasingly recognized as treatable forms of addictions. The type of behaviors which some people have identified as being addictive include gambling, food, sex, viewing of pornography, use of computers, playing video games, use of the internet, work, exercise, spiritual obsession (as opposed to religious devotion), cutting, and shopping.
When analyzing the addiction to food for example, a published study in 2009 from The Scripps Research Institute have shown for the first time that the same molecular mechanisms that drive people into drug addiction are behind the compulsion to overeat, pushing people into obesity. In this study, scientists focused on a particular receptor in the brain known to play an important role in vulnerability to drug addiction—the dopamine D2 receptor. The D2 receptor responds to dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is released in the brain by pleasurable experiences like food or sex or drugs like cocaine.
The term soft addiction was coined by Judith Sewell Wright to describe activities, moods or ways of being, avoidances, and things - edible and consumable but which do not pose a grave health disease risk - rather, they have the most effect on personal time and productivity. These behaviors were profiled in a 2007 ABC News story titled Bad Habits.
DSM / "Impulse control disorder" 
There is disagreement as to the exact nature of behavioral addiction or dependency. However, the biopsychosocial model is generally accepted in scientific fields as the most comprehensive model for addiction. Historically, addiction has been defined with regard solely to psychoactive substances (for example alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) which cross the blood–brain barrier once ingested, temporarily altering the chemical milieu of the brain. However, "studies on phenomenology, family history, and response to treatment suggest that intermittent explosive disorder, kleptomania, problem gambling, pyromania, and trichotillomania may be related to mood disorders, alcohol and psychoactive substance abuse, and anxiety disorders (especially obsessive–compulsive disorder)."
In the case of pathological gambling, for example, the American Psychiatric Association classifies the condition as an impulse control disorder and not an addiction. However, when the 5th edition comes out in mid-May 2013, it will be included in the addictions section and not the impulse control group.
Dopamine on behaviors 
There are many similarities in the neurobiology of behavior and drug addictions. One of the most important discoveries of addictions has been the drug based reinforcement and, even more important, reward based learning processes. Several structures of the brain are important in the conditioning process of behavior addiction. One of the major areas of study includes the region, called the amygdala, which involves emotional significance and associated learning. Research shows that dopaminergic projections to the amygdala facilitate a motivational or learned association to a specific behavior. The cycle that is created is considered the dopamine reward system.
Dopamine neurons take a role in the learning and sustaining of many of the behaviors we acquire. Research specific to Parkinson’s disease has led to identifying the intracellular signaling pathways that underlie the immediate actions of dopamine. The most common mechanism of dopamine is to create addictive properties along with certain behaviors. There are three stages to the dopamine reward system: bursts of dopamine, triggering of behavior, and further impact to the behavior. Once electronically signaled, possibly through the behavior, dopamine neurons let out a ‘burst-fire’ of elements to stimulate areas along fast transmitting pathways. The behavior response then perpetuates the striated neurons to further send stimuli. The fast firing of dopamine neurons can be monitored over time by evaluating the amount of extracellular concentrations of dopamine through micro dialysis and brain imaging. This monitoring can lead to a model in which one can see the multiplicity of triggering over a period of time. Once the behavior is triggered, it is hard to work away from the dopamine reward system.
Behaviors like gambling have been linked to the newfound idea of the brain’s capacity to predict rewards. The reward system can be triggered by early detectors of the behavior, and trigger dopamine neurons to begin stimulating behaviors. But in some cases, it can lead to many issues due to error, or reward-prediction errors. These errors can act as teaching signals to create a complex behavior task over time.
It is estimated that at least 90% of Americans have at least one form of soft addiction in their lives. Nadine Kaslow, PhD, professor of psychology and behavioral sciences at Emory University in Atlanta, has commented on the issue, saying that while it is healthy to relieve stress with behaviors like drinking coffee and watching television, when they become habitual they become problematic to one's health and happiness.
Cyber-psychologist Kimberly Young, director of the Center for Online Addiction, has addressed Internet addiction, one of the most common types of "soft addictions". Young has likened excessive Internet use to pathological gambling.
Research around addictions and social media sites has been growing. The Retrevo company recently came out with research suggesting that there is an obsessiveness to the way people are checking their pages.
See also 
- Shaffer, Howard J. "Understanding the means and objects of addiction: Technology, the internet, and gambling". Journal of Gambling Studies 12 (4): 461–469.
- Albrecht U, Kirschner NE, Grüsser SM (2007). "Diagnostic instruments for behavioural addiction: an overview". Psychosoc Med 4: Doc11. PMC 2736529. PMID 19742294.
- Potenza MN (September 2006). "Should addictive disorders include non-substance-related conditions?". Addiction. 101 Suppl 1: 142–51. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01591.x. PMID 16930171.
- Dan J. Stein; Eric Hollander; Barbara Olasov Rothbaum (31 August 2009). Textbook of Anxiety Disorders. American Psychiatric Pub. pp. 359–. ISBN 978-1-58562-254-2. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
- Parashar A, Varma A (April 2007). "Behavior and substance addictions: is the world ready for a new category in the DSM-V?". CNS Spectr 12 (4): 257; author reply 258–9. PMID 17503551.
- (Russian) Руководство по аддиктологии // Под. ред. проф. В.Д. Менделевича. СПб.: Речь, 2007. — С. 3-4.
- Goodman A. (November 1990). "Addiction: Definition and Implications". Br J Addict 85 (11): 1403–8. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.1990.tb01620.x. PMID 2285834.
- Carnes, Patrick (2001). Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction (3rd ed.). Hazelden. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-56838-621-8.
- Goodman A. (1991). "Addiction concept involves theoretical and practical issues". Psychiatric Times 8 (6): 29–33.
- Егоров А.Ю. (2005). "Нехимические (поведенческие) аддикции (обзор)" [Review Article: Non-Chemical (Behavioural) Addictions]. Аддиктология (in Russian) (№ 1): 65–77.
- Korolenko T. P. (1992). "Addictive Behavior: Its General Traits and Regular Development". The Bekhterev Review of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology (Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.): 5–9. ISSN 0-88048-667-5.
- Korolenko T. P. (1992). "Addictive Behavior: Its General Traits and Regular Development". The Bekhterev Review of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology (Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.): 5. ISSN 0-88048-667-5.
- Grant, Jon: Impulse Control Disorders: A Clinician's Guide to Understanding and Treating Behavioral Addictions
- Compulsive Eating Shares Addictive Biochemical Mechanism; ScienceDaily (Mar. 29, 2010)
- "New Diagnostic Guidelines for Mental Illnesses Proposed: MedlinePlus". Archived from the original on 21 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-24.[dead link]
- Judith Wright (2006). The Soft Addiction Solution: Break Free of the Seemingly Harmless Habits that Keep You from the Life You Want (revised, reprint ed.). J.P. Tarcher/Penguin. ISBN 978-1-58542-532-7.
- "Judith Wright Appears on 20/20 Friday July 7". PR.com. 2006-07-07. Archived from the original on 1 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
- "Bad Habits - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
- Goodman A (November 1990). "Addiction: definition and implications". Br J Addict 85 (11): 1403–8. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.1990.tb01620.x. PMID 2285834.
- McElroy, S.L.; J.I. Hudson, Hg. Pope Jr, P.E. Keck Jr and H.G. Aizley (1992). "The DSM-III-R impulse control disorders not elsewhere classified: clinical characteristics and relationship to other psychiatric disorders". American Journal of Psychiatry (American Psychiatric Publishing Inc.) 149 (3): 318–327. PMID 1536268. Archived from the original on 11 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- Should the scope of addictive behaviors be broadened to include pathological gambling?
- Brewer, Judson A; Marc N. Potenza (1). "ScienceDirect - Biochemical Pharmacology : The Neurobiology and Genetics of Impulse Control Disorders: Relationships to Drug Addictions.". ScienceDirect. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
- Girault, Jean-Antoine; Paul Greengard (2004). "Arch Neurol -- Abstract: The Neurobiology of Dopamine Signaling". Archives of Neurology. 5 61 (641). Retrieved 17 November 2011.
- Di Chiara, Gaetano; Valentina Bassareo (2007). "Reward System and Addiction: What Dopamine Does and Doesn’t Do.". Current Opinion in Pharmacology 7 (1): 69–76. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
- "Soft addictions - information on". Medicinenet.com. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
- "Portsmouth Herald Health News: You can get hooked on 'soft addictions'". Archive.seacoastonline.com. 2007-03-29. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
- "Is Social Media a New Addiction?". Retrieved 2011-11-18.