The following behaviours are currently under investigation to determine their addictive potential and criteria for medical diagnosis
Although these behaviours are not officially considered illnesses, some people become unable to control them, causing them significant suffering.
It should also be noted that some experts believe that any activity or interest that alters the “brain’s reward system” can lead to compulsive behaviour and thus to addictive disorders: sporting activities, sexual relationships, shopping, etc.
Sexual addiction is the loss of control over one’s own sexuality and the pursuit of pathological behaviour related to sexual intercourse, even if the negative consequences are known. Sexual addiction must be distinguished from hypersexuality because the former necessarily implies a notion of suffering and guilt that does not exist in hypersexuality.
The consequences of sexual addiction are:
- Medical: the greater the number of sexual relations, the greater the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
- Psychological: sex addiction is often accompanied by depression, anxiety and guilt.
- Relational: sex addiction tends to isolate the person, leading to relationship and partner problems.
- Sexual: development of sexual difficulties and disorders such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
- Social: the addiction invades the person’s social and professional life; risks of isolation and loss of employment linked to addictive behaviours (consultation of pornographic sites, compulsive masturbation, etc.).
Compulsive buying behaviour is an irresistible urge to acquire objects of no real use. Compulsive buying should be distinguished from impulse buying. The latter is an occasional and somewhat careless buying behaviour, whereas compulsive buying is repeated over time and is a response to negative emotions such as anger, guilt and stress.
Internet addiction / Problematic internet use
Internet addiction can be defined as a persistent and recurrent use of Internet-based applications or tools that cause significant impairment in a person’s functioning in a variety of areas over a prolonged period of time. Young people are most at risk of developing this type of disorder when they are unable to stop using social networks, blogs, e-mails, etc.
It should be stressed that the Internet is first and foremost a means to access this or that potentially addictive behaviour (such as compulsive shopping, visiting pornographic sites, etc.). However, other behaviours are already categorised as specific behavioural addictions, whether online or offline (gambling and video game addictions).
The consequences of internet addiction
These consequences can be viewed from a biological, psychological or social perspective. The biological consequences are associated with the eating and lifestyle habits that people affected by these addictive disorders develop: back pain and fatigue due to immobility and lack of sleep, inadequate diet (junk food), eye problems, etc.
Psychological consequences include loss of impulse control and the development of aggression.
Social consequences include a deterioration of friendships and family relationships, and a negative impact on productivity and commitment to work or studies (decreased motivation, concentration and attendance); there is also a risk of isolation.