The term behavioral addiction correctly refers to a compulsion to engage in a natural reward – which is a behavior that is inherently rewarding (i.e., desirable or appealing) – despite adverse consequences.

Preclinical evidence has demonstrated that marked increases in the expression of ΔFos B through repetitive and excessive exposure to a natural reward induces the same behavioral effects and neuroplasticity as occurs in a drug addiction.

sexual addiction counseling online-73sexual addiction counseling online-10

For example, altered levels of a normal protein due to environmental factors could then change the structure or functioning of specific brain neurons during development.

These altered brain neurons could change the susceptibility of an individual to an initial drug use experience.

One reason for this may be that the case is due to a focus of current research on common variants.

Many addiction studies focus on common variants with an allele frequency of greater than 5% in the general population, however when associated with disease, these only confer a small amount of additional risk with an odds ratio of 1.1–1.3 percent.

Addiction is a disorder of the brain's reward system which arises through transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms and occurs over time from chronically high levels of exposure to an addictive stimulus (e.g., eating food, the use of cocaine, engagement in sexual intercourse, participation in high-thrill cultural activities such as gambling, etc.).

Two decades of research into ΔFos B's role in addiction have demonstrated that addiction arises, and the associated compulsive behavior intensifies or attenuates, along with the overexpression of ΔFos B in the D1-type medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens.

In support of this hypothesis, animal studies have shown that environmental factors such as stress can affect an animal's genotype.

Overall, the data implicating specific genes in the development of drug addiction is mixed for most genes.

As described by two groups of researchers, addiction exacts an "astoundingly high financial and human toll" on individuals and society as a whole through the direct adverse effects of drugs, associated healthcare costs, long-term complications (e.g., lung cancer with smoking tobacco, liver cirrhosis with drinking alcohol, or meth mouth from intravenous methamphetamine), the functional consequences of altered neural plasticity in the brain, and the consequent loss of productivity.

Examples of drug and behavioral addictions include: alcoholism, amphetamine addiction, cocaine addiction, nicotine addiction, opiate addiction, food addiction, gambling addiction, and sexual addiction.

Studies performed on twins found that rarely did only one twin have an addiction.